Fr Vincent's reflections on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
It’s easy to find fault with others, but Jesus warns us that we might be deserving of criticism as well. How do we and others grow and bond through hearing and sharing the less attractive elements of our lives?
watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
read the text:
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Video Message 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption,
look graciously upon your sons and daughters,
that those who believe in Christ
may receive true freedom
and an everlasting inheritance.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 18:15-20.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Hard-headed, stubborn, insensitive – not very complimentary words, are they? Yet, there is truth in them to describe how I can be at times. If they were not spoken to me, then I could never have become: sympathetic, flexible, and supportive.
The words of Jesus in the Gospel today are not a license for you or me to be blazingly critical of others, as if we know better than they do the kind of people they should be. Rather, Jesus warns each of us that any of us could need to be corrected at times. Neither you nor I enjoy being corrected, but it is an essential part of growing in grace.
The person who refuses to listen to the advice of others, especially when it is meant to be helpful, ends up putting himself/herself outside of the group or community. So Jesus does prophesy the outcome for you or me if we remain hard-headed, or stubborn, or insensitive to friends and family wanting to help us improve ourselves.
The same way we would appreciate hearing those corrective words – with gentle compassion and encouragement – should be the way we attempt to deliver our observations to family and friends. A spiritual director told me years ago: “Never give corrective advice unless you plan to help the person act on that advice.” I want to become a better person, so I must be willing to hear even things that sting at first. When a friend is willing to help me make that improvement, it does not hurt nearly as much.
If we are willing to listen, to learn, and to improve ourselves, we actually build up the unity of our family, our group, our community, our church. We bond with others because there is a shared effort at making ourselves better and helping each other along that path of growth and spiritual improvement.
So the words of Jesus about praying together at the end of this Gospel passage do tie together with his words about the mutual effort to improve self and each other. To discover the beauty of shared constructive direction, and to experience the bond of a cooperative effort toward mutual growth, means we will actually find agreement on earth easier to achieve. And the power of our shared prayers will certainly be enhanced.
There is so much division in our world because: 1) people enjoy giving criticism without wanting to receive it; 2) people believe they don’t need to be fixed or know how to fix themselves without asking for help or direction; 3) people believe God should do what they want regardless of how it might impact others; and 4) people believe unity means “you agree with me,” and not “let’s find a mutually beneficial solution.” Thus, everyone ends up feeling on the outside.
Do not let the corrective advice of Jesus today fall on deaf ears. May we all pray to hear the truth about ourselves and grow spiritually, building up His Church on earth. God bless!
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.