Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

Posté par diaconos le 2 septembre 2020

If he listens to you, you’ve earned your brother

Vingt-troisième dimanche du temps ordinaire

From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew

At that time Jesus said to his disciples : « If your brother has sinned against you, go and reproach him alone. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. If he does not listen to you, take one or two more people with you so that the whole matter can be settled on the word of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly of the church; if he still refuses to listen to the church, consider him a pagan and a publican. Amen, I say to you: whatever you have bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And likewise, amen, I say to you, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything, they shall obtain it from my Father in heaven. For when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.  » (Mt 18, 15-20)

What should you do if your brother has done something wrong ?

 Jesus foresaw very clearly that Christians are no better than others. The Church is made up of the same fragile people as the secular society. Jesus gives us, in this page of the Gospel, a procedure for trying to resolve the difficulties that arise one day or another in any group of people: « If your brother has committed a sin, go and talk to him alone and show him his fault. If he listens to you, you will have won your brother »  (Mt 18, 15).

What Jesus tells us here can be applied to all our living environments : family, team, group of friends, associations, colleagues… How many conflicts, tensions, oppositions arise in our communities and if we are not careful, lead to conflict situations.  Sometimes, at first, everything seemed simple and harmonious. And then, in the long run, with the momentum having waned, the group is in danger of falling apart if no one cares about cohesion and fraternal mutual aid.

No group is safe from fault, from human misery… and neither is the Church ! What should you do if your brother has committed a fault ? Go and talk to him alone… and show him his fault… if he listens to you, you will have won your brother. This advice from Jesus speaks only of delicacy and mercy towards the person at fault. « Beware of despising anyone… Be like the shepherd who has lost a sheep and is running after it… Your Father in heaven wants no one to be lost » (Mt 18, 23.35).

Thus, it is in a climate of love that we have to intervene. We have the right to make a remark to a brother only if we love him. The whole Gospel teaches us that Jesus was good to sinners. Go and talk to him alone… and show him his fault… if he listens to you, you will have won your brother. Jesus wants this to be the solution to the conflict. Meet your brother at fault face to face, discreetly, so that evil remains unknown if possible and so that he can keep his reputation and honour. Do not act in haste and avoid arbitrariness.

In the second reading, the apostle Paul reminds us : « We must not be indebted to anyone, except to one another in love » (Rom 13, 8). Respecting the person at fault, respecting his home, respecting his reputation, all this boils down to loving him. We all remain in debt with regard to brotherly love. We have never really loved others as ourselves. Don’t we ever say: « I’ve done enough, now I’m even! « Let us have this respect for the sinner, which is the first gesture of the saving love that Jesus Christ has for each person.

Jesus therefore invites us to progress in our fraternal life, he teaches us to look at the other: every person is a brother or a sister, whatever their weakness or misery. The person at fault is never someone who is rejected after being condemned, he is a person to be saved. Jesus does not see the people he meets differently. To forgive, we must make a fraternal approach to the person who has offended us. There is no point in waiting for them to come and apologise.

Gathered together in this church on this Sunday to listen to the word of God, let us turn with the same trusting heart to the Father: Father of mercy, without tiring, you offer us your forgiveness. Grant us the strength to forgive one another.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

St Beuno’s Outreach : click here to read the paper → Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

◊ Diocese of Green Bay  : click here to read the paper →Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily by Very Rev. John Lankeit for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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