Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18: 15-20 Saint John Baptist de la Salle/Saint Stephen September 10, 2023 I shared with you last week the story of a person who was upset with me. His phone calls in the early morning hours have not yet stopped, and the language he used in the emails he sends me have become more and more vile. What do you do when someone hurts or offends you? Do you keep the hurt to yourself and brood over your wounds? Or do you confront the person and give voice to your annoyance or anger? To tell or not to tell: that is the question.
So, today’s Gospel is addressing this issue which arises in people’s lives. Matthew writes this instruction in the setting of an address given by Jesus to his disciples. The advice is simple: “Tell the person who is hurting you what they have done wrong, Jesus says: "if your sister or brother does something wrong, go and have it out with them alone, between your two selves.'' Jesus says that the offended person, not the offending one, should first seek reconciliation.
Jesus asks his followers to straighten things out with each other privately, if at all possible. The purpose of confronting someone who has done wrong is not to humiliate them, but to be reconciled with them. Listening to the Scriptures, we may immediately think of people who need correction. However, we do not like to be corrected, to hear that we are wrong.
So, let’s ask: Are there people out there that are trying to correct us, have we heard them? Or do we immediately respond by going on the attack? What are signs that others may be trying to correct us? Do you know of someone who consistently shows you another way of doing things? Perhaps they are pointing out our mistakes or what we are doing wrong?
How about the people who have disappeared from our life? Is this a clue that we could not hear a correction when it was offered? Here is another sign that others may be correcting us: "We do not like them." The day and age in which we live allows, even encourages us, to hate leaders in the Church and in society, and it's really easy to do so. However, whenever we strongly dislike someone, whether we know that person personally or only through the media, it is worth asking why; what causes us to hate so much?
Monday, September the 11th, will mark the 22nd Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. In an attempt to correct America for its believed wrongdoings, 19 people, associated with the Islamic terror group al-Qaeda, attacked our country, killing almost 3,000 people. Most of us were old enough to remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard that our country had come under attack. However, an increasing number of us do not remember that day, because we were too young or not yet born. But those of us who do remember should also reflect, and encourage others to reflect on September 12th, when we came together as a country, to console and recover. That's the day we started to look inward and outward. That's the day we just said, "We have work to do, and we must do what God has called us to do."
"If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts." Do not become defensive about, well, being defensive. Do you really believe that we have no faults? Still, no one likes to have a finger pointed at them. If you have been wounded by a just arrow, what might come next? But if the Just One, the one without sin, could stretch out his arms on the cross, then surely, we can uncross ours. Perhaps we can even listen just a little; perhaps we can even hear.