23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 6th Sept 2020

Theme: BROTHERLY CORRECTION

Ezekiel 33:7-9;

Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;

Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 18:15-20

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about brotherly correction.

The gospel today tells us that if a brother does something wrong, we are to correct him on our own, but if he refuses to listen to us, then we are to take one or two others with us to correct him, but if he refuses to listen, we are to report him to the community, but if he refuses to listen to the community, that is, the Church, then he should be excommunicated. Most importantly, the gospel asks us to pray for him and God will answer our prayers! (Craghan)   

It has been said that God helps those who help themselves, meaning to say that we have to help ourselves. Indeed, we have to help ourselves, but we also need the help of another person. We need the help of others. We need the help of family, friends, support groups, communities, the Church, and above all we need the help of God! We cannot go to heaven alone!    

I am happy to note that in our parish we have counselors under training for the individual counseling ministry; we have support groups (Bible-Sharing groups, “Preparation” groups, Prayer groups, etc.), communities (Basic Ecclesial Communities, Small Christian Communities, etc.), the Church, and above all we have God to help us in our journey to heaven!  

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we do not warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent and the wicked man dies for his sins, we are responsible for his death. But if we warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent, but the wicked man refuses to repent and dies for his sins, we are not responsible for his death. This is what God said to Ezekiel, the prophet of Israel. Thus we read in the first reading:

“If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” (Ezk 33:8-9; SM)  

The responsorial psalm is a call to praise and worship God, and to be faithful to God. (CSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas.

The first stanza and the first part of the second stanza tell us to praise and worship God (vv. 1-2, 6). The second half of the second stanza (v. 7ab) tells us that we worship God, because he is our shepherd, that is, our ruler (HCSB), and our Savior (NJBC). The third stanza tells us to be faithful to God, and not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled (Meribah) with God and tested (Massah) God in the desert (vv. 7c, 8-9).

In the context of today’s readings, the responsible psalm is a call to the sinner to repent! Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 8; SM)  

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us. The second reading tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law! (CSB)

Love fulfills all the commandments, including the commandments not to commit adultery, not to kill, not to steal, not to covet, etc.! For when we love, we will not commit adultery, kill, steal, covet, etc.!

Love is the fulfillment of the law! Love is the only law and the only law is love! Love and do what you will says St. Augustine! Love is above the law! Love does more than the law requires of us! Love is merciful and forgiving; love shows mercy to the poor and forgiveness to the sinner; the law is neither merciful nor forgiving!

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us correct our brothers and sisters, and help us accept brotherly corrections. The Holy Spirit will help us love our neighbor as ourselves! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!      

                                                                                                                        Amen!

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