23rd.Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept 10, 2023: Ezek. 33:7-9; Rom 13:8-10; Mt 18:15-20.
“We are our brother’s/sister’s keeper…You shall love your neighbor as yourself..)
As God’s children through Baptism, and brothers and sisters in Christ, we are challenged to be each other’s “keepers,” and take on a painful, triple responsibility, of lovingly and prudently correcting each other when we err, forgive those who offend us, and ask forgiveness from those we have offended.
Summary: In the first reading, God tells Ezekiel that he is to be a "watchman for the house of Israel,” obliged to warn Israel of moral dangers. If Ezekiel should refrain from speaking God’s word given to convert the wicked, God will hold Ezekiel responsible for the death of the wicked.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that true Christian charity obliges a Christian, not only to assist his neighbors in their temporal and spiritual needs with material help and prayer, but also to aid with correction those brothers and sisters who have damaged the community by public sin. If the erring one refuses a one-on-one, loving correction by the offended party, then the Christian is to try to involve more people: first, "one or two others,” and eventually "the Church." Finally, Jesus mentions the efficacy of community prayer in solving such problems, for Christ is present in the praying Christian community.
Life Message: In the 2nd. reading, St. Paul points out/Summarizes that the love we should have for one another should be our only reason for admonishing and correcting the sinner.
Love seeks the good of the one who is loved. And so he says: “Brothers and sisters, owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…Love does no evil to the neighbor. Hence love is the fulfillment of the law.” Therefore, we should admonish one another so that we all may repent and grow in holiness.
Conclusion: We are our brother’s/sister’s keeper. Sadly, modern believers tend to think that they have no right to intervene in the private lives of their fellow believers. I have heard people saying: “IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS…”.Others evade the issue saying, “As a sinner, I don’t have the moral courage or the right to correct anyone.” But Jesus emphatically affirms that we are our brothers' keepers, and we have the serious obligation to correct others. We need to offer advice and encouragement to our friends, neighbors, and coworkers when it is needed, and loving correction, in private, for a personal offense where that is possible.