March 2 - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 49:14-15
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 4:1-5
Gospel: Mt 6:24-34
“Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1).
In a way, the Corinthians were passing judgment on Paul, Apollos and Cephas when they claim that one was superior to the other. Christ, not his servants, is the only one that really matters. The apostles and evangelists are mere stewards or managers entrusted with the administration of the Master’s property. They have an inferior position to that of the Master. They are stewards of the mysteries of God. These servants have been appointed by Christ to preach the mysteries of the faith that he has revealed. The truths that they preach come from Christ, they are not their own. The apostles are working for him—not for themselves.
The mysteries hidden from all eternity in God are now being given to the apostles so that they can make them known. To some extent they remain mysteries because the human mind can understand them only in a limited way. In carrying out their mission assigned by the Master, Christ, they are accountable only to him. He, and only he, has the authority to pass judgment on them—not certain ones among the Corinthians.
“Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (2).
Paul is quite aware of the fact that he is expected to manage the mysteries of God according to the will of his Master, Christ. He must administer the word of God as he was directed. He has been entrusted with a precious mission. He is expected to carry it out exactly as he was told. The truth must be preached as it was revealed, without the least deviation. It must be interpreted correctly in complete faithfulness.
“It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself” (3).
Paul is very conscious of his responsibility to dispense the mysteries of salvation commissioned him by Jesus. It is to Jesus that he is accountable—not to any human being or group of people. He believes that he is doing as directed. He is very conscientious about doing it well. But no one is a good judge in his own case. Only God or his Master, Christ, can evaluate and judge him in all truth. As much as he tries to do exactly as commanded, Paul cannot be absolutely objective in judging himself and his actions. That is why he must leave the ultimate judgment to Christ. No human being can perform that function.
“I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord” (4).
It is difficult for us to be completely objective when we judge ourselves. We may not be conscious of any wrongdoing or perhaps we are unaware that the task we have been commissioned to do was done imperfectly. Maybe there was slight negligence on our part. Only God can evaluate the intricacies involved and judge us in all fairness and objectively. The final judgment pronounced on Paul’s ministry must await Judgment Day.
“Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God” (5).
We do not have all the facts to pronounce judgment: the inborn weaknesses of a person, the obstacles he has to work against, the extent to which he has used his talents, the genuine sincerity of his heart and all the complexities that make up a human being—only God is equipped to understand and judge a person. He knows us through and through. He even knows the hidden intentions of our hearts. He will reveal the hidden saints among us. All who have done their best to do good and follow God’s will are going to be revealed and praised by God. Meanwhile it is for the Corinthians and us to abstain from judging others—that is God’s business. They and we are totally inadequate to perform such a function. We are often completely wrong in our judgments. We don’t have the facts to properly evaluate the people we want to judge. We may see certain actions and consider them right or wrong. But we do not know the person, his reasons for so acting, or what his intentions are. We must lift our hearts to God and ask him to be merciful to us and them. We must turn all of these spontaneous judgments of ours into a prayer to God to help us think favorably of others. Love must come to inform all of our thoughts, actions, and judgments.