TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
SEPTEMBER 10, 2017
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
And entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 18: 15-20
GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME
If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
The Gospel of the Lord
REFLECTION PROVIDED BY MONSIGNOR JOSEPH MARINO
Allow me to begin our reflection by quoting from the Imitation of Christ, a fifteenth century spiritual masterpiece written by Thomas A. Kempis:
…Listen to my words, says the Lord, the most delightful of all words, surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world. My words are spirit and life and cannot be comprehended by human senses alone. They are not to be interpreted according to the vain pleasures of listeners, but they must be listened to in silence and received with all humility and great affection (Book 3, Chapter 3).
In the Imitation of Christ, the author provides the above directive as if given by Jesus himself. In one sense, this significant counsel is not far from the words we heard from last week’s Gospel when Jesus chastised Peter for …thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. In other words, we humbly accept the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word and guidance for our living as disciples of His Son, and most especially when we are prayerfully reflecting on the holy Gospel.
This Sunday’s Gospel is taken from the eighteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel which chapter is referred to as the Discourse on the Church. Jesus Christ has gathered all the baptized into His own Body, into one community of believers. By the power of His death and Resurrection, we have been reconciled with the Father and to one another. Therefore, the unity of the Church, that is, the peace of Christ among its members is paramount! All the members of the Church respecting and loving one another, and preserving the unity of the Body is not a humanly achievable undertaking. The unity and peace that abides within the Body of Christ is a gift of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us with the expectation that we preserve it. When we preserve this gift, our unity becomes the Beacon of Evangelization attracting others to Christ. This Beacon of Unity becomes an attractive force because it is not merely the work of our hands but the work of God achieving its end in and through us! In our midst God abides, and because of His presence others will want to join!
Because this unity within the Church is so very important, Jesus in today’s Gospel gives clear instruction on dealing with the sinful activity of conflict within the community. Three steps are laid out for you and me, the Church: one-on-one private resolution; intervention by two or three believers for reconciliation; and finally, public review by the Church body. The motivation always for this activity is love of neighbor – preserving the unity of the Body … If he listens to you; you have won over your brother.
Indeed, we are responsible for the spiritual welfare of each other … we are called to work for the holiness of each other until we all are in eternal peace with Christ! The power to bind and loose is the power of reconciliation given to us by Christ. Praying for one another, working to preserve the unity of the Church, and going after our brothers and sisters who have wandered is our responsibility … doing for others what Christ has done for us.
And, if one is outside of our human grasp, we are to remember that the greatest act of going after is prayer done by two or three. Christ has given to us the key that opens the heart of God, our prayer made in the Name of Jesus!
May we do more binding to ourselves in love than cutting loose in anger, more going after our brother and sister than shunning our neighbor, and more praying together for each other in the Name of Jesus! Amen, Amen.
ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST
HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC (LUKE 5: 17-26)
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