Saturday, September 06, 2014
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 7, 2014
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ez 33: 7-9 / Ps 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9 (8) / Rom 13: 8-10 / Mt 18: 15-20
First Reading: Ezekiel 33: 7-9
For your part, son of man, I have set you as a watchman for Israel, and when you hear my word, you must give them my warning. When I say to the wicked: 'Wicked man, you shall die for sure,' if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways, he will die because of his sin, but I will also call you to account for his blood. If you warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you yourself will be saved.
Second Reading: Rom 13: 8-10
Do not be in debt to anyone. Let this be the only debt of one to another: Love. The one who loves his or her neighbor fulfilled the Law. For the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not covet and whatever else are summarized in this one: You will love your neighbor as yourself. Love cannot do the neighbor any harm; so love fulfills the whole Law.
Gospel: Mt 18: 15-20
If your brother or sister has sinned against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are in private, and if he listens to you, you have won your brother. If you are not listened to, take with you one or two others so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he still refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard such a one as a pagan or a publican. I say to you: whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound. In like manner, I say to you: if on earth two of you are united in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my Name, I am there among them."
Chapter 18 of Matthew's gospel is a collection of various teachings on Jesus that pertain to situations within the community, namely, fraternal charity and power of prayer.
Let us focus on the theme of fraternal charity as the reading presents a sort of procedure for reconciliation to become a possibility. There is a three-stage process described to deal with a community member who has done "something wrong." Presumably, it is some form of external behavior which is harmful to the quality of the community's witnessing to the Gospel. This passage intends to suggest a way towards reconciliation rather than punishment. The first step is for the two people concerned to solve the issue between them. If this works out at that level, that is the ideal situation. "You have won back your brother." To win back is a Jewish technical term for conversion. For it is not enough that he merely stops his offensive behavior, there also needs to be a genuine change of attitude and a genuine reconciliation with the offending person. In short, there is a metanoia, a change of heart for the better.
However, we know from experience that the encounter between the offending or warring parties may not be resolved. If such is the case where the offender refuses to listen to his "brother," the next step may be applied. This time, other individuals are to be brought in as confirming witnesses. And, if he refuses to listen to these, then "tell it to the church." By Church here is meant the local community because in the thinking of the Christian Testament, each self-contained community is a 'church.'
As a last resort, if the offender still refuses to listen or to change, "treat him like a pagan or tax collector." That is to say, let him be put out from the community and be regarded as an outsider. Obviously, this is a drastic and final step and to be taken not in a spirit of revenge or vindictiveness but out of real concern for the well being of the whole community. It requires very sensitive discernment because it is easy to let go and get rid of someone who may in fact be telling the community some wholesome truths it needs to hear. In short, this structured way of dealing with conflicts aims to resolve misunderstandings and controversies. It presents a Christian way to manage conflicts.
Fraternal correction is something we are constantly reminded of. But it is so difficult to apply it in our lives for it may simply be due to rejection, anger, and fear. Yet, in the end, any attempt to correct our brother/sister should come essentially from the motivation of love and concern. This is what is presented in the second reading. Paul reiterates the importance of love as the only reason to minimize the hurt that one can inflict on one's neighbor with whatever feedback we give especially if it is to correct something that is detrimental to the unity of the community. To keep the commandments without love -- and it is possible -- is allowing ourselves to become Pharisaic and not Christ-like. Love makes us sensitive to the need of others even if it means correcting them so that they can become better people.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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