THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2014
WOE TO ME IF I DO NOT PREACH THE GOSPEL!
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-27
are empowered to witness. This is our privilege, but it is
also our obligation. “If I preach the gospel, this is
no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed
on me” (v.16a). We have been commanded to preach the
gospel. God expects us to do so. God is making Himself and
His work dependent upon us. If we do not, there will be serious
consequences. Indeed, as Paul said, “woe to me if I
do not preach it!” (v.16b).
do we need to understand about the Great Commission?
it is not just a service we opt to do, but is a stewardship
imposed by God. “If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.”
(v.17). Many Catholics of course do not share Christ. Perhaps
they are just ignorant of this stewardship. Now when we do
evangelize, then we are amply blessed, given satisfaction
and joy in doing so. But if we are unwilling to respond to
God’s call, then we need to be told that God actually
compels us to do this work. It is not an option. It is a command
for all who profess to be Christ’s disciples.
as stewards we are servants. We have been given a privilege,
but no rights or position or claim to acclaim. Aside from
the joy of proclaiming Christ, we are not to profit personally.
We act like Paul: “That, when I preach, I offer the
gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right
in the gospel.” (v.18b). Yes we act in the name of Jesus.
Yes we carry on divine work. Yes God depends on us for the
salvation of souls. But no, the gospel is not to be a way
of business or material or social profit for us. The privilege
of being a witness to Jesus is its own reward.
as stewards on whom God is relying for His work to be done
and His plan to be accomplished, we are slaves who have no
rights and who are to expend ourselves in doing the work.
We are to do as much as we can. “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.” (v.19). We are not
to be content to reach just one or two or a handful. We are
to go all out to proclaim the gospel to all, indeed to the
whole world, and to do so with a sense of urgency.
as stewards who are compelled by God to do this crucial work,
our own salvation is dependent upon our doing this work. “All
this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have
a share in it.” (v.23). We not only repent and turn
to faith in Jesus. We not only become a good person, avoiding
sin and wrongdoing. We need to become evangelizers as well.
We not only strive to live Christ, but we also must share
Christ. If we do not, we endanger our own salvation. If we
do not gather the sheep, we scatter them. If we do not proclaim
the gospel, those for whom Jesus died will continue in their
sins and not merit the salvation already won for them. The
harvest is rich but the laborers are few. If we who are called
to be those laborers do not bring in that harvest, in effect
thwarting the plan of God, then we ourselves are not deserving
of the ultimate gift of salvation.
since this work is so important, we need to work at our own
capability to be able to effectively do the work. We do not
just coast along. We focus. We endure. We persist. “Run
so as to win.” (v.24b). We are disciples and so we are
to be disciplined. “Every athlete exercises discipline
in every way.” (v.25a). This is about the discipline
of daily prayer, of daily Bible reading, of faithfulness to
community meetings, of chipping away at the negatives in our
lives, of loving our brethren unconditionally, of asking and
granting forgiveness, of supporting God’s work with
our time, talent and treasure.
I do not run aimlessly” (v.26a). We have a vision and
a mission. We go for it. We do not run around in circles.
We do not engage in fruitless argumentation or polemics. We
do not engage in destructive dissent. “I do not fight
as if I were shadowboxing.” (v.26b). We are in a real,
vicious war. This is the fight of our lives. Everything, including
the well-being of our families, depends on the effective proclamation
of the gospel. We go all-out as warriors.
I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having
preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
(v.27). It was not enough to live Christ but we also needed
to share Christ. Now we see it is not enough to just share
Christ in any which way, but we must be able to preach effectively.
How? We must grow in holiness. We must be ready to endure
the cross. We must be willing to suffer as we engage the enemy.
We must grow to be saints, martyrs and warriors.
Catholics in the world are seeking excellence, and they want
to excel in business, in politics, in society. They seek wealth,
power, position, acclaim. We seek only one thing--to serve
God and His people. Others might think of us as fools, as
we expend ourselves in God’s work, while others accumulate
more and more of what the world has to offer. But we have
chosen the better part. “They do it to win a perishable
crown, but we an imperishable one.” (v.25b).