for Sunday, September 7, 2014
How do we correct one another? How do we encourage one another to do what
is right? These are not easy themes in families or in religious
communities. There is so much presumption today that we must trust one
another and not judge one another and thus we should leave each other in
peace. We also hear statements such as not to speak about religion or
politics with other people, because the result will always be a conflict.
This is the wisdom of the world. Jesus Christ gives us a different wisdom
as do the Jewish Scriptures, our Old Testament. This teaching of the
Scriptures is clear: if we see our brother or sister in Christ doing
something that is not right, and we do not try to tell them what is right,
then we are responsible. This is a really difficult teaching.
The Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading today speaks the Word of God to
us: "If you did not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, you are
responsible." How far do we have to go? There is no indication, but
surely this is not a declaration of war! We also know that in order to
speak, we must find a way that might possibly be heard! It is a strong
challenge to speak the truth in ways that might be heard.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, tells us that our only
duty is to love. When we love another, then we must speak the truth. When
we love another, then we must speak out if that loved one is doing
something that harms himself or others. If we love another, we learn how
to listen, to admonish and how to accept admonishment.
The Gospel today, from Saint Matthew, repeats the admonition of the Prophet
Ezekiel. It is also clear that if the other person will not listen to us,
we should continue to speak the truth and ask others to be part of this
witness to the truth. Finally, however, if there is no agreement, we
should separate the one who will not listen.
This is clearly a course on how to negotiate but also a course on how to
separate in the end if there can be no agreement. Today, of course, both
sides will claim to have the truth. This is why it is important in our
Catholic Church that we acknowledge an authority structure. Not everyone
who claims to be Catholic is Catholic in this sense. It should always
sadden us when there is division. It should always sadden us when
believers will not accept the decisions of the Church. There are always
ways to disagree and to continue to challenge what is taught in order to
verify if it is really truth.
We can return to the second reading and be very clear: it is all about
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Ezekiel 33.7-9
Second Reading: Romans 13.8-10
Gospel: Matthew 18.15-20
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: