23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

09-10-2017HomiliesDeacon John C. Navaretta

Today’s Readings are all about relationship. God expects all of us, every human being, to have the same relationship with each other and with God, as God has with us. And God has only one expectation concerning relationships, that they are relationships of love. Love as God sees love as an action, not as humanity sees love, defined as an intense feeling of deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy,and other fuzzy feelings. These are simply feelings not love. It is the action of love that generates all thefuzzy feelings; an action that calls us to give of ourselves. Then through this self-giving we generate an arrayof warm fuzzy feelings for those to whom we give and for ourselves.

Now let’s look at our first reading. It speaks about being a watchman for God--for us to take action to be responsible to warn people of their evil ways; not out of self righteousness, but out of love. This means thatwe want to see others overcome their wrong action as dictated by God’s laws and return to a healthy relationship with God. Then God gives us the consequence for our action or our lack of action concerning ourrelationship with others. If we act on behalf of another to help them get right with God but they refuse to respond, the burden is on them and we shall be rewarded for our efforts. But if we refuse to act on behalf ofthe best interest of others, the burden is on us. As usual, God’s message is short, sweet and to the point.

Next is our Responsorial Psalm: It says “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts”. This statementpoints directly to our relationship with God. Is our relationship with God one of love or convenience? If weprofess to be in a relationship of love which is a relationship of giving, how can we harden our heart to thevoice of God, family, friends and others when they call to us? Yet in our humanity, at times we do. That iswhen a relationship is one of convenience, not love. So we need to keep our hearts open not hardened. Today’s Psalm has a particular verse that I am particularly fond of because it is an example of love as an action, an act of giving. It says “Come, let us ‘sing joyfully’ to the Lord; let us ‘acclaim’ the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with ‘thanksgiving’; let us ‘joyfully’ sing psalms to him.”

Then comes our second reading; which like everything else in the Bible, is for everyone. It tells us to owenothing to anyone ‘except’ to love them; which actually tells us; that we owe love, the gift of self, to everyone. When we accomplish this; we will fulfill the law. Our reading continues by giving us an example ofhow to do this through our actions. It tells us to 'love’ our neighbor as yourself and that ‘love does no evil’ toour neighbor.

We close with the Gospel. The first line is very simplistic, but says so much concerning relationships. Ifsomeone sins against you, go tell them and deal with it one on one. This is the best course of action becauseit serves no purpose to complain to those who cannot help the situation. In a complex society this is not always possible; but it is possible in our immediate circle such as family, friends, and working relationships.Come to closure through communication on all your grievances when you can. Many times they are just misunderstandings. The reading continues by telling us if you cannot work it out get other people involved,family meetings, social and workplace gatherings. Then Jesus throws a change up at us. He says: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church” The word church refers to the entire community of Jesus, the people, as the one body of Christ.

Note: The passage flows from individuals to the community of Christ’s church. Just as God the Father calledus to be a watchman for God out of love, for us to help others overcome their wrong action and return to ahealthy relationship with God, Jesus, Son of God, tells us that being a member of his church means youhave a responsibility to His entire community. The tensions and trials that arise from the wrong doings of oneof us toward another that do not come to closure impact not only individual relationships, but the entire community as a whole.

Then Jesus talks about where to find this power of agreement. He tells us that anything agreed upon by twoon earth will be done for them by the Father in heaven. As well as this promise, Jesus ends by telling us"where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." This transcends our ability to come to an agreement, to come to complete justice on our own. Jesus promises to be among us at all times to assist us; in finding the justice that humanity cannot find on its own.

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