Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 6
Through the Virtue of Christ-like Love, May All of God’s Children Find That Gift of Humility So As to Begin to Mend the Many Broken Fences We Find in This World Which We Live Today.
We are reminded in today’s Gospel, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Some time ago, a family member had called me, asking for my opinion and advice about an issue which was bothering him, for it dealt with certain personal issues which seemed to be eating away at the very core of his inner peace and tranquility. He continued for almost an hour on the phone, pouring his heart out about the pain and hurt which he was experiencing.
I felt for his pain, because I could understand what he was feeling inside. And I can assume that many of you reading this today can also remember or reflect back upon a time when someone, maybe a family member or close friend, may have hurt you deeply. And it is a hurt that does not heal quickly, for a personal hurt can cut us “deep to the bone”.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about something which goes even much further than just a family member or close friend hurting us. He is speaking about those members of our Christian community who have strayed from the Truth and are injuring their relationship with God, members who may no longer be practicing their faith in a way which the Church deems appropriate, members who have distanced themselves from the teaching authority of the Church, some even creating scandal by what they say and by what they do.
And, from time to time, we read or hear about a certain politician, maybe even a member of the clergy or religious community, who has distanced him or herself from Church teaching and thinking, and their actions only serve to misguide and lead others into confusion and sin, which we find happening throughout the world to Christ’s Church especially now, especially in the midst of all the chaos and mayhem which many are sadly experiencing today!
And Jesus tells us today the hard and factual truth, “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.”
Just as I felt sorrow for the family member’s pain whom I had mentioned at the beginning of this meditation, we, too, cannot help but feel sorrow for the pain which our Lord must feel from the actions of our brothers and sisters who willfully choose to close their hearts to the Church’s constant invitation to remain reconciled to Christ through His one-true Bride.
I can never fathom how anyone, who says they love Christ, can willfully choose to harm their relationship with our Lord or cause scandal for His Church. I can only imagine how saddened our Lord must be over seeing His children openly and freely choosing to cause dissention and confusion, all the while justifying their actions as though God is indifferent to the harm they are causing!
Even outside of His Church, there is such discord and disagreements amongst people that peace, tranquility and selfless love are difficult to find!
And, in our First Reading, God is informing us that we have a duty to help each other, and we do this with love and charity. If we ignore this responsibility, God’s message through His prophet Ezekiel is very specific –
“If…you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.”
God does not wish to lose any of His children, and we, as His disciples, become His voice in gently reaching out to our brothers and sisters. God’s invitation for all to be reconciled to Him is even echoed in the words of today’s psalmist which we just read in our Responsorial, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
In spite of all the evil which exists in today’s world, in spite of all the suffering and despair which many of God’s children experience, in spite of all the confusion which some of the Church’s hierarchy is causing for the faithful, for those of us who accept His Laws into our hearts, for those of us who willfully choose to keep Christ at the very center, the very focal point of our lives, then God’s invitation to each of us is fulfilled in our love for Him and love for our neighbor, as well as embracing all that God is asking of us.
It is our freewill choice, it is our open acceptance of His Love which appeases God’s anger, which consoles and comforts God’s sorrowful Heart. It is our love for our Heavenly Father, it is our love for our Divine Savior and the very Spirit of God Himself, which unites us and makes us one with our God!
We have been taught from our earliest childhood experiences, when it comes to our faith, that God is Love, and that we are made in the very image of God. To live love in our lives means that we become godly. To reach out and become as Christs in the world to those who are in most need, and especially to those who have hurt us, means that we become Christ-like.
Saint Paul tells us in today’s Second Reading, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” And, just what is that law? Paul reminds us of the words of our Savior Himself, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In what I would consider to be a very thoughtful and a very insightful way of expressing what being Christ-like truly means, Paul writes to the Christian community in Rome, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
When we open ourselves to God’s grace in our lives, when we surrender our ego and our pride and become as little children in the eyes of God, then, with faith and humility, we can truly reach out from the depths of our hearts with the words of today’s psalmist –
“Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.”
It is my earnest prayer, and I pray yours also, that, no matter what their ethnic origin, no matter what their religious or political persuasions may be, all of God’s children may find that gift of humility within themselves so as to begin to mend the many broken fences we find in this world in which we live today, so that each of us may begin to forgive and to learn to live together in harmony and love.
So that each of us, as children of God, may no longer cause Jesus’ Divine Heart to be filled with sorrow. But, rather, with Infinite Love and Eternal Joy, may He gladly reside in each of our hearts, always remembering His promise to us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
God is Love – and for us to be godly, for each of us to be Christ-like in our life of faith, then we, too, must selflessly love as well!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.” (Matthew 18:15a, 16a, 17a)
- “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.” (Matthew 18:18-19)
- “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
- “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked, you must die,’ and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.” (Ezekiel 33:8-9)
- “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts…” (Psalm 95:7b-8a)
- “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
- “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
- “The commandments…are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)
- “Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, we are the people he shepherds, the sheep in his hands.” (Psalm 95:6-7a)
- “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 John 4:11)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord, Make me an instrument of Your Love.
May I see each circumstance in my life
as an opportunity to grow in Your Mercy.
May I see my environment
as a place to grow in Your Peace.
“When I am tempted to become impatient,
help me to be patient.
“When I am tempted to become unkind,
help me to be kind.
“When I am tempted to become jealous,
help me to be tolerant.
“When I am tempted to become boastful or proud,
help me give You the glory.
“When I am tempted to be rude or selfish,
give me the gift of gentleness.
“When I am tempted to take offense,
help me to let go.
“When I am tempted to become angry with someone,
give me the gift of forgiveness.
“When I am tempted to become resentful,
give me Your power to love.
“All gifts and all charisms come from You.Anonymous
All will one day come to an end,
with one important exception, the gift of love!
Help me to always love others as You love me. Amen.”