September 6, 2020 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s readings, the Lord reminds us of the importance of being members of a community.  He tells us in the Gospel that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is in their midst.  This message from the Lord is important for each of us to take to heart, especially today when excessive individualism and selfishness is presented to us by the world as the ideal way to live.  According to the world, the mantra is: live and enjoy in your private space and never allow anyone else to come close or even be bothered by them.

The Lord wants to remind us again that he did not create us as solitary nomads in our private islands but as brothers and sisters whose lives are meant to touch each other.  He wants us to live out the full implication of this truth.  The first is that we are all connected with each other.  Everyone should therefore be concerned for each other’s welfare.  We are particularly to be solicitous for the good of our neighbor, especially their spiritual welfare.

In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel was warned that if he fails to tell and dissuade a wicked man from his or her evil ways, he will suffer for that negligence.  In our interactions with our neighbors, do we take a stand for the truth?  Remember, our enemy the devil always tries to persuade us not to take sins seriously.  He tells us that we deserve to be happy and that there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong.  That is why we find it difficult to condemn evil when we see it.

Each of us has been given that siren in our hearts—the Holy Spirit—that reminds us what is wrong and what is right.  Do we listen to him?  In the gospel, the Lord says that if our brother or sister has sinned against us, we try to inform him or her and help him or her make amends, integrating the person back to the community.  This admonition challenges us today where when someone does wrong against us, rather than integrating the person back into the community, we try to make the person be hated by our loved ones and our friends.  We want those that are not in good terms with us also to be despised and disliked by every other person else.  We cannot do that since as Paul tells us in the second reading, owe nothing to anyone, except to love him or her.

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