The commentary on the Gospel Reading can be found here. The Epistle is
Chrysostom’s homilies invite us to note the humility with which St Paul refers to himself: he neither disguises his former sinfulness, not rejoices in his own strength – every thing is for and by Christ. He is not forgetful of his sins, but he knows they are forgiven him, and he wants to be an example to all sinners that there is none, no not one, not even the greatest is who beyond the redeeming love of Christ. It was, St Augustine says, solely by the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that Paul, like all of us, was saved from the sins in which he languished; whilst the soul can injure itself, it cannot provide the medicine needed to heal itself. Just as, if we would heal the self-indulgences which harm the body, we must heed the advice of the doctor, so too, with the soul, must we heed the advice of Christ the healer. If we acquire the grace of faith, then we are just by that faith, and the just man lives thereby.
Chrysologus notes that that Paul does not exhort us by the might and power of God, but by his great mercy – for that alone saves us. But if men will not admit their sin and will not repent of it – if they persist in it and glory in their own righteousness, then they do so to their ultimate destruction, as Paul might have done had he not responded to God’s grace.
St Cyril of Jerusalem marvelled at the way in which it was the former persecutor, Paul, who contributed so many epistles to the Canon. It was not that the other Apostles did not have anything to say, but it was the case that no one could accuse Paul of always having followed Jesus. He is a perfect example of the prodigal son brought home.
St Athanasius points out St Paul’s method in passing on the true teaching. That which the Apostles received they passed on without change so that the doctrine of the mysteries (the sacraments) and Christ would remain correct. The Divine Word, the Son of God, wants us to follow their teaching – only from that source do we get ‘faithful words, worthy of acceptance’.
St Augustine reminds us that there was one sole reason the Word became flesh – that was to eliminate the disease of sin. Every single person has fallen short of the will of God, and there is nothing for us but damnation; justice would be to damn us all. But here we are liberated by God’s redeeming love – we are ‘vessels of mercy’, freed not by our merits but by the love of Christ.
St Isaac the Syrian reminds us that St Paul says he is the greatest of sinners even though he has spent years proclaiming the Gospel in hard conditions and through much suffering. He knew that he must run the race to the end, and he hoped for the crown eternal at the end.
St Augustine comments that if we are to attain that vision by which we see God as he is, our hearts must be cleansed.