23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time —Year A

Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF


Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew,

Glory to you, O Lord!

"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, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.


Today we are invited to reflect on Jesus’ recommendations on how to recover one who failed or got lost. Jesus says, "Your Father in heaven doesn’t want even one of these little ones to perish.” It is up to the shepherd, of course, to search for the sheep that is lost, wounded, and in risk of falling in a very deep and dark ravine. However, every Christian is a shepherd of their sister and brother. No one can say like Cain: "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9).

The law of love requires a commitment to bring the brother/sister on the right path, but how to proceed in such a delicate issue? There is a mistake that must be avoided: gossiping, spreading the news of the error. This is defamation. It serves only to marginalize the one who did wrong, to humiliate him/her. The truth about others spoken without any benefit is gossip. The truth that does not produce love but causes anxiety, creates dissension, hatred and resentment is better not spoken. One cannot tell everything that is true or everything one knows. One must, above all, refrain from disclosing a truth to those who want to use it for evil.

Let's see what Jesus suggests to "tell the truth" to a brother/sister who is in danger of being lost. The path to follow is divided into three stages. First: one has to talk personally to the brother/sister, person to person, face to face. Everything must be resolved in secret, to prevent others from finding out what happened.

If this first attempt does not produce the desired result, the second step to take is to ask for help from one or two sensible and wise brothers/sisters of the community. Never forget the goal: the recovery of the brother/sister. One should never give the impression of cornering him/her or putting him/her in front of someone who looks for ways to convict. S/he must perceive that s/he is dealing with friends who want her/his good and willing to testify in front of the brothers/sisters of her/his good disposition.

The last stage is the recourse to the community. This can happen only when the sin committed risks to disturb the brothers and sisters, especially those who are weak in the faith. If so and the culprit does not want to amend, then s/he must be considered "as a heathen and as a publican.”

Taken literally, this recommendation squeals out of Jesus’ lips, who has just warned the disciples: "See that you do not despise any of these little ones” (v. 10). How is it possible that "the friend of publicans and sinners" (Mt 11:19) pronounce a very hard judgment?

The responsibility entrusted to the church is great. She is called to authentically declare what thoughts, feelings, and choices are in accordance with the gospel and which one moves away from Christ. She does not cast out, condemn nor punish anyone but only helps one to become aware of the condition in which everyone stands in taking certain decisions. To achieve this result one should be clear that the measures taken against him/her are dictated only by love, not by the desire to "separate him/her" from a community that considers herself perfect.









译者:Fr.James Gao