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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
1st Reading (Ezek 33:7-9): Thus says the Lord: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
Responsorial Psalm: 94
R/. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: «Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works».
2nd Reading (Rom 13:8-10): Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, «You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet», and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, «You shall love your neighbor as yourself». Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Versicle before the Gospel (2Cor 5:19): Alleluia. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 18:15-20): Jesus said to his disciples: "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."

“Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone”

Prof. Dr. Mons. Lluís CLAVELL (Roma, Italy)

Today, the Gospel suggests that we consider some of Jesus' recommendations to His disciples, both from those times and for all times. Even in the community of the early Christians, there were faults and behaviors contrary to God's will. The final verse provides the framework for resolving problems that arise within the Church throughout history: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them " (Mt 18:20). Jesus is present in every period of the life of His Church, His "Mystical Body", invigorated by the unceasing action of the Holy Spirit. We are always brothers and sisters, whether the community is large or small.

"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” (Mt 18:15). How beautiful and loyal is the fraternal relationship about which Jesus teaches us! When faced with an offense against me or someone else, I must ask the Lord for His grace to forgive, to understand, and ultimately, to try to correct my brother or sister.

Today, things are not as simple as when the Church was less numerous. But if we ponder our relationships in dialogue with our Heavenly Father, He will enlighten us to find the time, place, and appropriate words to fulfill our duty to help one another in a spirit of familial charity. It's crucial to purify our hearts. Accordingly, St. Paul encourages us to correct our neighbor with a righteous intent: “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted” (Gal 6:1).

Our deep affection and humility will make us seek gentleness. “Go with a motherly hand, with the almost infinite tenderness shown by our own mothers, when they were treating the hurts and injuries, big or little, resulting from our childhood games and falls” (Saint Josemaría Escrivá). This is how the Mother of Jesus, and our Mother too, corrects us: with inspirations to love God and our brothers and sisters more deeply.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty” (Saint John Bosco)

  • “It is important above all to prevent any clamor in the news and gossip in the community. This is the first thing, this must be avoided, to avoid wounding or killing the brother with words” (Francis)

  • “The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1445)