23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Updated: Sep 10
September 10, 2023
Reading 1 Ez 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 Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9 R. (8) 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. R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 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. R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 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." R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Reading 2 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.
Alleluia 2 Cor 5:19 R. Alleluia, alleluia. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel 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."
This gospel passage can be interpreted as a guide to handling conflicts and disputes within a community of believers. Let's break down the spiritual meaning of this passage:
Addressing Sin and Reconciliation: Jesus begins by emphasizing the importance of addressing wrongdoing within the community. In spiritual terms, this can be seen as a call for individuals to confront sin or moral transgressions, not with judgment or condemnation, but with a loving and compassionate heart. It suggests that in the spiritual journey, one should strive for personal integrity and guide others towards righteousness.
Private Resolution: The passage advises that if someone has sinned against you, the first step is to approach them privately to discuss the matter. In a spiritual context, this emphasizes the value of interpersonal communication and reconciliation. It highlights the principle of resolving conflicts directly and seeking understanding, which aligns with the spiritual virtue of forgiveness and healing.
Seeking Witnesses: If the initial attempt at reconciliation fails, Jesus advises involving one or two witnesses. This can be seen as a metaphor for seeking wisdom and guidance from a trusted priest or spiritual mentor when facing difficult spiritual challenges or conflicts.
Involving the Church: Taking the matter before the church community signifies the importance of seeking communal wisdom and guidance in spiritual matters. It reflects the idea that spiritual growth and conflict resolution often require the support and input of a larger spiritual community.
Treating as a Gentile or Tax Collector: This phrase suggests that if all attempts at reconciliation fail, individuals should not be cast out or condemned but treated with the same love and compassion that Jesus extended to Gentiles and tax collectors. It underscores the principle of unconditional love and the potential for redemption and transformation in every soul.
Binding and Loosing: Jesus' statement about binding and loosing on earth and in heaven indicates the authority and responsibility of the Church to discern and uphold spiritual principles. It suggests that actions taken on Earth can have spiritual significance and consequences.
Prayer and Gathering in His Name: The passage concludes with a reminder of the power of prayer and the presence of the divine when two or more are gathered in His name. In a spiritual context, this emphasizes the importance of coming together in unity, seeking divine guidance, and trusting in the transformative power of collective spirituality.
In summary, this passage teaches spiritual principles of reconciliation, community support, wisdom-seeking, and the transformative nature of love and forgiveness. It encourages individuals to navigate conflicts with grace and humility, always striving for spiritual growth and the well-being of the community of believers.
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