On the Road Together for September 9&10
For September 9&10, 2017
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
From the Second Reading:
Owe nothing to anyone,
except to love one another:
for the one who loves another
has fulfilled the law.
Director of RCIA
We are all part of many different communities. At times, our communities are life-giving and other times, they are a struggle. When I was visiting a friend this summer, we were reflecting on her son’s soccer league that he had been a part of for many years. There was a big rift caused by some members of the team trying out for a different team after agreeing to stay together. My friend felt betrayed and angry and was processing how and if to move forward with their friends who left the team. Many of us may have felt betrayed by someone in one of our communities and/or may have even been the one to not honor our side of a commitment.
Many of our New Testament readings give us a wonderful glimpse into the ways the early Christians worked out some of their difficulties as they learned what it meant to live in community together and to follow Christ. We can tell from our next few selections of Matthew’s Gospel that they, too, were having some difficulty as a community dealing with those who were failing to live up to the community’s standards. Our passage this weekend goes through a loving process of working with someone who sins against you. Jesus tells the disciples to take great effort at bringing the person back to the community, first trying to work out the interpersonal conflict one-on-one, then bringing a couple of other people to help, and when that fails, bringing it to the church community. The early Christian community certainly dealt with the same hardships and joys of living in community that we, too, often face.
All of our readings this weekend show how we have a responsibility for one another. We desire and work for the salvation of each other. We are to avoid what might cause another to stumble. We are to restore them when they go astray. The prophet Ezekiel likens our responsibility for the other to a sentinel in battle, warning people before it is too late. Truly this is a profound authority and responsibility we have as Christians. But not only does the giver of caution and forgiveness have this profound responsibility, but so does the sinner who receives the invitation back to the community.
We all fail at living in community at some point. We place ourselves outside of the boundaries of what is acceptable and loving towards those to whom we are responsible. Maybe we are the one who broke our promise and had our child try out for another team behind people’s backs. Maybe we are not faithful in our marriages or we stay at work longer to avoid some of the chaos in our families. Perhaps we have been a little less than honest in submitting our working hours or cheating on a test. Or maybe we are the ones who hold that grudge that keeps our families from being together.
It takes such humility, as the sinner or as the one who has failed to hear this call to restoration. As our readings this weekend show us, the Christian community is there to help us avoid that which makes us stumble and when we do, calls us back into the community through many loving means.
We have many ways here at Emmaus where that call to restoration can happen. In a couple of weeks, the women have the opportunity for a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, a wonderful opportunity to reflect on where God is calling us from and to. We have the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we are not only given the grace of forgiveness, but also grace to move forward. And we cannot forget the Sacrament of the Eucharist which also reconciles us to Christ and to one another as a sacrament of unity with all. Once we experience this restoration in our parish family and in our spirituality, it carries forward in our other communities. And it can even make that which we never thought possible a healing reality in our lives.
I will hold the Christ-light for you,
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,
Speak the peace you long to hear.
Third verse of
The Servant Song
Readings for Mass, September 9&10:
Sent by Beverly Aviles on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 4:47PM