Saturday of week 23 of Ordinary Time – First Reading


Commentary on 1 Tim 1:15-17

In today’s short reading we pick up immediately where we left off yesterday and we are on the same theme: God’s mercy to the sinner and Paul as a striking example of it.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This, Paul tells Timothy, is a saying he can rely on and that no one should doubt. There is no such saying found anywhere else in the New Testament and it may simply be a creation of Paul himself and an expression of his firm belief.

For him, the truth of the statement is perfectly clear because Paul says that he himself is one of the greatest of sinners. This was because of his record in persecuting innocent Christians and throwing many of them into jail. It looks also as if he was an accomplice in the stoning of Stephen, if not the chief instigator. That must have been very much on his conscience. So, if he has received mercy and forgiveness for his past – as is indicated by his being chosen personally by Christ as apostle – it is because Jesus Christ meant to make him a striking example of his inexhaustible patience with sinners everywhere, who threw themselves at God’s mercy.

And he concludes by offering honour and glory to the “eternal King, the incorruptible and imperishable, the invisible and only God”.

Reflecting on these words, we can, first of all, recall how we ourselves have experienced the mercy and “inexhaustible patience” of Christ our Lord, considering how many times we have failed in our service of him and in loving those around us.

Secondly, we need to have some of that same compassion and patience in our own dealings with those whose behaviour we feel falls short of Christian and human values.

We live in a very judgmental world but we need to remember the warning that Jesus gave us in yesterday’s Gospel reading: “Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye, when you fail to see the plank in your own?” (Luke 6:41).

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