23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - 10th September, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Ezekiel 33:7-9 Romans 13:8-10 Matthew 18:15-20

 

Speak the truth in love

We are living in a time when much of our world seems to be enmeshed in evil deeds, corporate and individual greed, rampant injustice and persecution of minorities. The daily talkback shows and TV news bring it right into our living rooms. Today’s readings highlight the fact that each of us is called to play an active part in our “shared responsibility in humanity’s journey to holiness” if true love is to conquer. We will not be alone. Christ said that if we are united in prayer He will be with us. Today’s three readings highlight this theme.

At a time when the Babylonian army was poised to destroy Jerusalem the prophet Ezekiel was given clear instructions from God. Ezekiel was to vigorously warn the wicked of their evil deeds. “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. …. I shall hold you responsible”. It was Ezekiel’s task to convince people of their sins, whether they repented or not. To repent, of course, we all need to open our hardened hearts to receive and hear God’s voice. The responsorial psalm beautifully picks up this truth, “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts”. Give us, Lord, open hearts!

In Paul’s letter, he reminds the Romans that they are to keep the commandments which are all summed up in the saying “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbour, hence love is the fulfilment of the law”. For Paul’s early Christian community, and for us, conflict resolution is essential. Is there anyone in my own life towards whom I bear hard feelings or with whom I need to be reconciled? Are there groups of people we could be tempted to hate because of their wickedness?

Christ’s message in the Gospel seems to be very clear about disagreements in the Christian communities. If the matter between the two of you is not resolved then “take one or two others along with you so every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses”. The restoration of peace needs to be re-established and Jesus reminded his listeners that if they were united in prayer He would be in their midst.

 

The power of prayer is not to be underestimated. “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.” Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask for God’s forgiveness for our own sins as we also forgive those who trespass against us. Give us Lord a deeper awareness of the responsibility we have for one another as we continue our journey to holiness.

Denise Sullivan OP