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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 23rd (A) in Ordinary Time

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 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».

«Go and point out the fault when the two of you are in private»

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

Today, the Gospel puts forward for consideration Jesus' advice to his disciples, then and now. In the community of the first Christians there were also faults and behaviors that are contrary to God's will. The final verse offers us the framework to solve the problems arisen, throughout history, within the Church: «For where two or three are gathered in my Name, I am there among them» (Mt 18:20). Jesus is present in all epochs of his Church, his “mystic Body”, invigorated by the constant action of the Holy Spirit. We are always brothers, whether our ecclesial community is a big or a small one.

«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» (Mt 18:15). How beautiful and truehearted is the fraternal relationship Jesus teaches us! In front of a fault against me or against someone else, I must beseech the Lord's grace to forgive, to understand and, finally, to try and rectify my brother.

Today it is not as easy as before, when the Church was less numerous. But, if we mull over these things in a direct dialogue with God, our Father, He will enlighten us and help us find, the time, the place and the right words for us to carry out our duty to help. It is important to purify our heart. St. Paul inspirits us to correct our neighbor with a straight intention: «Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted» (Gal 6:1).

Our deep affection and humility will make us look for the gentleness. «Behave with maternal hands, with our mothers’ infinite delicacy when they healed the wounds, large or small, of our children’s plays and missteps» (St. Josemaria). This is how Jesus' Mother, and our Mother too, correct us, with stimulations to love more God and our brothers.