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Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 6, 2020

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 6, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry


Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 33:7-9

Psalm 95

Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 18-15-20


Several years ago there was a local election for town council and two best friends were running for the position.  The two men grew up together, went to school together and worked for the same company.  Each are godfather to the others children.  As the campaign went into full swing the two friends began to attack each other to the extent of even making up lies about their past behavior.  After the election, with one winner and one loser the two best friends had become mortal enemies.  Their families interceded and, with the help of their parish priest they settled their differences and were best friends once again. 

If brotherly correction is not done in love then it can, in some cases, revert to a form of violence.  For instance children, such as siblings, or classmates in school sometimes use violence as “brotherly correction” by pushing, shoving and by the use of calling each other names.  It’s called “bullying.”   The giving of correction in love is what parents do to their children, what teachers do to their students and what friends do to friends. 

In today’s first reading the prophet Ezekiel was commissioned by God to give brotherly correction to the house of Israel as we heard, “You, son of man, I have appointed watchmen for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.” 

In our second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, we heard, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Throughout the world we have experienced the horrors of violence in our cities, the many countries who are at war, social injustice, an unprecedented pandemic called COVID-19 and political strife.  It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse.  We seem to be powerless which in turn makes us feel helpless.  We ask, “What can I do” and “How can I help?”  

In today’s Gospel narrative Jesus clearly builds His community of followers on the notion of a community in which we care for one another, even when there is conflict and division.  Jesus, at the end Matthew’s Gospel assures us with the comforting words that, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Our individual reflection on today’s readings and the terrible conflicts in the world today can lead us to come together and pray for healing in our world.  We, as a Catholic community must pray together for world leaders, as well as ordinary people everywhere, that we can come together to find the path to a lasting peace built upon some kind of reconciliation and just care for the common good, especially for those on the margins of our society. 

I believe Saint Mother Teresa said it best in her Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech in 1979:

            “It is not enough to say, “I love God but I do not love my neighbor.  Saint John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you won’t love your neighbor (1 John 4:20.)  How can you love God who you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you do see, whom you touch and with whom you live?   And so this is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt.”

Sisters and brothers, our world today is complex and confusing.  Each year the pace is more rapid.  Each year the technology is more enticing and addictive.  Each year our priorities are rearranged to fit our daily needs.  Each year we find more and more animosity to our fellow neighbor.  Each year more and more people are drifting further and further from their faith tradition.

Saint Paul tells us to not conform ourselves to this age but to discern the will of God what is good and pleasing and perfect.  Good advice, indeed. 

Let us pray that our entire world be guided by today’s Responsorial Psalm, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Question of the Day:  How will you reach out to someone to ask for forgiveness or to offer your forgiveness to someone else? 

Prayer:  Lord God, you forgive my sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Help me to forgive those who have offended me in the past and allow me to ask for forgiveness to those I have offended.  Amen.

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who are affected by this unprecedented pandemic as well as for peace in our country and in our world.


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