Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Ezekiel 33: 7-9
7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
The house of Israel today comprises of all those who believe in the one holy Catholic Church. While the sentinels are those who have been entrusted with proclaiming God’s Word, it includes those who read, study, and seek to understand it through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we all are expected to fulfill this task in our own constituencies! If we fail in accomplishing this mission by our own little daily actions; we stand charged for those whom we could have saved! Just by an act of omission or failure to listen to his prompting of speaking up or taking action, we stand judged!
Let us realize the gravity of our words and actions, as we speak and do the bidding of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Amen!
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 95: 1-2, 6-9
O that today you would listen to his voice! 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Permit me to listen and obey, O Lord! Amen, Alleluia!
Second Reading: Romans 13: 8-10
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
If we love our neighbor and wish them no harm, we will fulfill the law? Well yes, it is that simple! But is it really simple? Beginning with love for the neighbor, first, we must have that love within us so that we can share of it. If we know ourselves as God knows us, we will begin to truly love ourselves. But it is quite the opposite most of the time – because we entertain the deceit of the devil, we stop loving ourselves! When our cup is full and overflowing only can we share the love for neighbor. When our hearts are full of the love that Jesus provides, we are composed with quiet strength. It is only from this stance, that we will love our neighbor.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Gospel: Matthew 18: 15-20
18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
In speaking to his disciples, Christ speaks to us today as his present-day sentinels! We cannot ignore his call now or we will be judged! Taking up from the first reading where we are called to alert others, here Christ further lays down the steps for reconciliation. But having followed all of the steps, if one still refuses to listen; Christ clearly states how we are to deal with them. Alert, Love, take measures to reconcile, and if they still persist in their ways; we are to treat them like the Gentiles and the tax-collectors of old! Now we take a look at how Jesus treated tax collectors: today’s Gospel author was one of them! Another example was Zacchaeus from the sycamore tree! (Luke 19:1-10) Jesus went and dined in their homes, called them, and converted them!
But we are not Jesus! It is very difficult to treat those stubborn ones like Jesus would! Yet, we ought to try! “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) The question is whether we are willing to try! We must remember that the daily bread we pray for in the “Our Father” includes the bread of spiritual strength. At the end of the day, the Lord knows our hearts and our intentions! The ‘Zacchaeus’ or the ‘Matthew’ response may not occur at our bidding, but when we do it in the name of Jesus we must believe it will materialize!
He preached to the Gentiles too and those who believed in Him, humbly asking for healing; He healed! Eg: (Matt 15:28) the Canaanite woman, was rejected at first but her perseverant and humble faith; earned her the miracle. Other examples are the Centurion (Matt 8:5-13), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42), one of the ten lepers who were healed (Luke 17:11-18), and more. But the common response seen in all the above examples is the humility, repentance, and reparation expressed by the ones who received their healing and/or conversion! In the absence of repentance and reparation, even God does not heal/save anyone! Therefore, we ought to stay humble and repentant!
In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!