Gospel Reflection | Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time


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."

Mt 18:15-20


Praised be Jesus Christ!

By our human nature, we are made for community. We were created to live among other people and to relate with other people. In the first chapters of Sacred Scripture, we are reminded that we are not made to be alone (Gen 2: 18). In this relational journey with others, we have some obligations, not only to God but also to one another.

That first obligation is to help the other grow in holiness. This is called "fraternal correction." Fraternal correction involves charitably and gently bringing the fault of a person to him or her. The goal is to help the person avoid sin and so grow in holiness. Fraternal correction can never be self-righteous, accusatory, or arrogant in its tone. The Gospel today shows us the progression of authentic fraternal correction: first individually, then collectively, and finally communally. Again, this progression isn't meant to correct for the sake of correction or to embarrass the individual, but to help him/her reach our ultimate goal of Heaven.

Our second obligation is to prayer: personal prayer but also communal prayer. Our Lord reminds us that when two or three are gathered in prayer, He is there among them (Mt 18:20). There is tremendous power in community prayer. Therefore, we have a weekly obligation/commandment to worship God by praying as a community at Sunday Mass.

Both of these obligations can be very challenging. Correction is difficult to give and to receive. It can be far too easy to replace Sunday Mass with other events, the gym, or just coffee and the Sunday newspaper. However, we have an obligation to God and to each other (our community) to make both of these priorities so that we can continue to build up the Body of Christ on earth. As always, know of my prayers before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+Bishop Schlert


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