Ezekiel 33:7-9; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20
Dear Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds to know God’s will for us and give us your power to do our part to help make the world better.
This Sunday’s gospel is particularly difficult to understand and put into practice. None of us are perfect and therefore we do not live in a perfect family, parish, country or world. Yet how does our behavior help make things better for ourselves and those around us especially our family? If we can be better persons then those around us can be better. Good behavior helps create good behavior. We can look in a mirror first. Where do I need to improve?
Only two perfect people
Jesus and his earthly mother were the only perfect persons, according to our scriptures and church teaching, that ever lived on earth or will ever live on earth. God our Father sent his Son to earth, born of an earthly mother, who benefitted first from the merits of his death on the cross. His resurrection proves that God accepted his sacrifice to free humanity from its disobedience (sin) and bring us into his kingdom.
We are called to be more like Jesus. We need to know him, his life, death and resurrection more. We can do that more by reading the gospel stories about him and his work. Our baptism brought us into God’s kingdom, his family. We must remain in the Church Jesus founded to continually be empowered by the sacraments to live that better life Jesus came to bring us.
The yardstick of love
Love is the yardstick of all Christian conduct, not how the world defines love, which is more self-satisfaction and happiness from the misuse of earthly things and relationships. In the church, laws and regulations must reflect Christ’s love for us. Church laws are valid only to the extent that they regulate conduct by clearly respecting the dignity and worth of each person. This is fine with the members of the church, none of which are perfect. Wherein lies the challenge. God’s grace from our sacraments and daily prayer are a great help.
The first and gospel readings refer more to public than personal offenses against love. Matthew basically follows the understanding of the Jewish community. Christians follow similar guidelines. If the offense is personal then it is between those two. If it is a major public offense then it goes to higher authority in the church. The goal is to try to keep the person within the Christian community.
Living in God’s kingdom with Jesus as our prime example is a great blessing. Jesus offers us more help (grace) to live out his law of love, “Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We need more of his grace to do that.
The gospel ends with “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Look how many people come to Mass on Sundays in our parish, diocese, etc. God is there with us and listening. He is pouring out more of his love, healing, teachings and blessings upon us. This grace fills us and flows from us to those we meet during the week.
Have a blessed week,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)