23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time-A
I Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9: If you do not speak to the wicked man, I will hold you responsible for his death.
II Reading: Romans 13:8-10: Love is the answer to everyone of the commitments.
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20: If he listens to you, you have won back our brother.
The Steps to Correcting Offending Brothers, Mt 18:15-20
Ezekiel was among the first to be deported to Babylon in 597 B.C. In the role of watchman of his people, his function is to prepare them for the restoration of their city, but it will be only on the basis of their true repentance.
In Romans chapters 12 and 13, Paul deals with the principles that motivates Christian life and in the second reading the law of love is stated. All the commandments are gathered up in this one word, “love.” Jesus said it all in Matthew 22:38-40. When the New Testament was written, a new word was needed with new concepts, “Agape” (Sacrificial love as against the phileo=blood relationship love and eros=erotic love) the love that is of the will, the love that is part of God’s language.
Reconciliation is of the very heart of Christianity. Here in a passage found only in Matthew, our Lord deals for securing the reconciliation of those who within the church are at variance with each other. The power of excommunication given to Peter in Chapter 16:19 is here bestowed on all the disciples.
God planned to save a human being within a family: God prepared the salvation of the world through the people of Israel, through the church (people of God), through our local Christian community.
In the passage of today, Jesus advices us how to proceed when one of our brothers causes serious harm to the individual or community by not living according to the faith, that is, when guilty of serious sin. Each one of us are responsible for the whole Christian community and when correcting an erring brother, we should be prompted by love and by no other motive. Jesus gives the two powerful remedies to heal spiritual sickness within the Christian community:
1)The first remedy is the power to forgive sins. Jesus bestowed it on Peter (Mt 16:19); he bestowed it again on the apostles in the passage of today (Mt 18:18) and Jesus hastened to confirm this power given to the apostles as he appeared to them in the evening of the day when he rose from the dead (Jn 20:22-23).
2) The second remedy is prayer (Mt 18:19). The power of the Christian community gathered for worship. Jesus puts one condition that we be united in heart and an act of sincere repentance. We should not let a single day pass without praying for unity, peace and mutual love within our Christian community.
Jesus corrects and handles the sinning brother how to bring reconciliation between two offending brothers. God has one great concern: He wants peace restored between the brothers and within the church. If the sinning brother refuses to be reconciled and to rectify the wrong, Jesus says the disturbance is not to be tolerated any longer, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector (v.17).
1. Step 1: Attempt reconciliation (v.15-17)
a. Go to brother alone
b. Go to the brother with witnesses
c. Go before the Church
2. Step 2: Discipline the brother (v.17-18)
a. The earthly discipline
b. The heavenly support of God
3. Step 3: The essential step-bathe the matter in prayer (v.19-20)
a. Seeking agreement
b. Seeking God’s will and approval
c. Seeking unity in His name
d. Result: His presence
Thought: Our lives should be done in a spirit of humility, love, care and unworthiness. Let us try to seek the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).
Prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation are powerful remedies taught by Jesus Christ to his Church to help us be healed of the many spiritual sickness which afflict us.
Our lives and our community will grow vigorous when we pray and live united by mutual love and forgiveness.