Homily Twenty- third Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, September 10, 2017
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9
Psalm: Ps 94:1-2. 6-9. “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.”
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Twenty- third Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, September 10, 2017 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-23rd-ordinary-a (Edition: 47 )
[“’gospel’ values included in the readings:”the essence of discipleship and faithfulness to God is love, that is formed from within by God’s grace. It fosters loving watchfulness inside and out, and it softens the heart and saves us from ourselves, it turns us back towards each other, and facilitates understanding, healing and reconciliation. Love, not righteousness is the key to this all]
All of the readings this weekend are really about the primacy of Love in Christ’s vision for the Kingdom of God. Love, as saint Paul says, is the fulfillment of all the law… and love is the motivation for the prophet’s words and the driving-force for the Christian community and its members to resolve misunderstandings and conflict.
In the first reading, The Lord says to the great prophet Ezekiel… I have made you a sentinel… a watchman…..This is the true key to the role of the prophet…… forget about the fact that it sounds terrible that the prophet will be punished with death if they do not fulfil God’s law… rather… if the prophet is the sentry… the watchman.. their vital role is actually a role of love and protection and concern for the welfare of everyone..
This image of the watchman reminds me of something I noticed when I visited Rome a few years back… the Firefighters in Rome had a wonderful name… they were called "Vigili del Fuoco" which in English is rather poorly translated as “Firefighters” just as we use here..// But, that is not actually what the word means.. “firefighter” (the word), tends to give the impression of responder to fire, reacting to the threat of fire; whereas the words Vigili del Fuoco literally means “watcher for fire” - a watchman..// a sentry…// actively looking out for the danger of fire.. caring for the community by watching for danger… alerting them as soon as the danger is seen.. and acting immediately to put out the fire… (that is indeed what firefighters do everywhere, of course, and including in this community… they don’t just respond to fires.. they also engage in community involvement to look into and point out risks and hazards to minimize the risk of fire…
So too with the prophets of old… they were not self-righteous, superior know-it-alls. They were sentries.. they were showing God’s love by watching out for danger and alerting God’s beloved people so they could respond immediately and end the danger… they lovingly/ caringly watch for dangers so as to alert people, so they can act swiftly to get to safety…
it is an act of love and care… No wonder God is so strict with his prophets… saying.. if you fail to warn them, you will suffer the same fate… their role is like a security guard or a military watchman… if they fail to be alert.. if they do not warn people when danger is nigh, they have no regard for the people to protect… and they are guilty of fialing to warn and protect… Looking at things that way, one can see God’s absolute love for his people.. and desire that people have every opportunity to live in the light of God’s care and protection.. walking in God’s ways.
God’s Law of love…. Asks all of us to be Vigilant not only outside dangers, but also keep watch within…..…. keep guard and watch over our heart…. To ensure that we love, as God’ loves, and that our hearts do not harden into legalism, lack of compassion or mercy…. Or apathy…..… we are all Sentinels… watch-persons.. vigilant for any discord, hatred, or inconsistency with the gospel. And we are vigilant within ourselves, where resentment, jealousy, desire, begins: in the heart…
In the letter to the Romans, we are reminded that love takes different forms. Love is faithful to its commitments and promises, love respects other people’s commitments, love respects life absolutely, love respects other’s property and loves honesty… love respects other’s rights and upholds them… In fact, Saint Paul says that love is at the heart of all the commandments.. (As Our Lord taught us first). …
Love is open to resolving misunderstandings, hurts and harm. Reconciliation, understanding and forgiveness are the central core of the gospel… Allowing God to soften our hearts…
When there is conflict or misunderstanding, things that make the situation worse include: talking to everyone but the one we have the issue with… Gossip, and a culture of festering resentment or complaint… // The gospel says that there is no better way than face to face… not writing, and (for our modern age), not, heaven forbid, sending flaming texts or emails….. Even if the meeting of two hearts in openness does not resolve the misunderstanding, the gospel teaching to have two or three church members come along is not about ganging up or getting the numbers to win the argument.. but again is centred in charity and love… if things have become so tense, perhaps some independent, wise and loving hearts might be able to help melt the impasse…
Inspired by these readings, I have a favourite saying…. “If one cannot say something with love and charity… don’t say it at all.//.because it will do no good”….
There is a delightful twist at the end of this gospel… All is not as it seems.. If all ones sincere attempts fail, we are told in this gospel, to treat the other as a tax collector or a Gentile// .. But here is the catch.. Our Lord has shown us that this does not mean we have lost the other… Tax collectors and gentiles had become Jesus’ disciples and had responded to God’s word… so there is always hope – they are by no means lost to us – nor do we ever give up on someone…..- love and charity always prevail…..
Fr Paul W. Kelly
Bergant, D. and Fragomeni, R. (2001). Preaching the new lectionary. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press. P. 340
Barclay, W. (2009). The gospel of Matthew. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew.
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Twenty- third Sunday of the Year A
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you healed the sick:Lord, have mercy//Lord Jesus, you forgave sinners:Christ, have mercy//Lord Jesus, you give us yourself to heal us and bring us strength: Lord, have mercy.
We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER FOR RECONCILIATION II WITH OWN PREFACE
Communion side. FR pwk: LH
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.
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