Paul does a rare thing in today’s reading: he boasts! He boasts about his ancestry, his fine schooling, his being chosen by God for his mission. His bout of boasting suggests that we might take a turn at boasting; but if we look at ourselves honestly, we find we really have nothing to boast about. St. Paul gave us the reason for that inability when in he said, “What do you possess that you have not received?” First Corinthians, 4:7.
Taking that honest look at ourselves we find nothing there that was not given to us. Isn’t that true? Let’s list what is ours only because it was given to us. First, there were our genes. Secondly, the family we were born into. Third, our early rearing. Fourth, our position in the world. Let’s take them one at a time.
First, our genes have come to us from countless generations of ancestors who kept their bodies and minds healthy by developing working habits and by avoiding addictions that would have passed on weaknesses.
Second, as helpless creatures born into this world, we received our essential physical and spiritual nourishment from our families.
Third, through two decades when we couldn’t support ourselves, we were cared for by people who had us develop study and work habits that prepared us to be free.
Fourth, we had those who opened doors for us.