September 10, 2017 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 10, 2017

Reading 1EZ 33:7-9

Responsorial Psalm PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

  1. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 ROM 13:8-10

Alleluia 2 COR 5:19

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 18:15-20

Homily— September 9 & 10, 2017

The readings are challenging today as we hear the Prophet Ezekiel say “If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, I will hold you responsible for his death.”   In the gospel Jesus tells his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you. . .”   The second reading from Paul to the Romans sums up our response in the words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sin is defined in the bible as a condition of alienation and separation from God.  The sinful acts we commit are the result of the condition of alienation and separation in which we find ourselves.  At issue is not simply the act but the intention behind the act.  Is the offense simple?  More serious?  Will continuation in this sinful pattern of life lead to a moral crisis and a possible loss of faith?  These are the three degrees of sin that the church has traditionally recognized as requiring discernment.  Is the sin in question simple, serious, or mortal?  Jesus gives his disciples practical advice on how to discern this for themselves.

Remember that sin is a condition of alienation and separation.  Separated members have to be brought back into the family.  Simple sin, the beginnings of alienation and separation in the church, can be dealt with among two persons.  Point out the fault and move on.  If the person listens you have “regained that one.”  In a more serious scenario due to more serious sin, sin skewing toward the habitual, you may need two or more members of the church family to call the wayward one back to fellowship.  If the sin becomes too much for the church to bear then the offender is to be put out of the church (Gentiles and tax collectors were not permitted into Jewish synagogues or the temple; a devout Jew would also keep apart from them) until they come to their senses and repent so as to return to the fellowship.

Although it makes sense to speak directly to the one who hurts us I suspect that our first response is to talk to someone else about it who will sympathize with us.   Perhaps a spiritual director or confessor can help form a plan of action with the addition of time spent in prayer for reconciliation.  Sometimes we have to look at our own thoughts and actions before we can call others to better actions and example.

As your pastor I invite you to a fuller participation in the Mass.

  • Come every Sunday and Holyday
  • Come early to pray and to greet others
  • Participate in the singing (4:15) and (9:30) and in the responses—
  • Dress appropriately and with your Sunday best—growing up on the farm we had a set of clothes that we only wore on Sunday and when we got home we immediately changed out of them until the next week
  • You do not have to be in a rush to leave—let the presence of God “soak in”  say a prayer of Thanksgiving—visit with those around you
  • If you are living with someone you love outside of marriage then love them enough to marry them and receive God’s sacramental blessings
  • Confess your sins a minimum of once a year and no more often than once a week
  • Spend time in prayer each day

The Old Testament had 613 laws to follow.   Today we have 1752 laws in the church but Jesus summarized them all with his law of love.   Let us express our love by helping those in need.   I would expect that our contributions for hurricane victims will be shared between those suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey and Irma and perhaps Hurricane Jose which also appears to be destructive.   Remember how blessed we are here in Iowa and let us share with those in need.

With the termination of the DACA program many people without legal status who were brought to this country as minors face deportation.   Some do not even remember living in another country and their first language is English.   I pray that our legislators can take their situation into account and come up with a fair solution.   Archbishop Jackels pointed out that “Catholic social teaching recognizes the right of a nation to secure its borders, but also its duty to have a reasonable policy to receive immigrants, as well as the right of people to emigrate. . . .Laws are important.  Laws represent the behavior expected of responsible citizens in a just society.  But laws can be bad, broken, or unfairly applied.  When they are, like our present immigration laws, they need to be corrected accordingly. . . .What can we do?  Pray to God for the poor people affected by the termination of the DACA program, for all immigrants, and for lawmakers, that with wisdom and courage they can agree on a legislative solution in a timely manner.  We can also write our legislators, urging them to find a way to fix a broken law. . .And each of us can ensure that the practice of our Catholic Faith includes advocating for the right to life of all people and their right to the things needed to live in dignity, including protection from harm all the way from the womb to the tomb, as well as devotion to the common good.”     Remember the law of love of neighbor.

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