Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), September 7, 2014 – Ez 33, 7-9; Rom 13, 8-10; Mt 18, 15-20
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another (Rom 13, 8)
In the end, love is what it is all about. It is God. It never fails. It keeps no records of wrongs (“If you, Lord, record our sins, who can stand?), but it does not rejoice over injustice either. Though it bears all things, it impels us, nevertheless, to correct and reform ourselves, so that we may love better every time.
The first reaction of love is not to wag the finger in public at someone needing admonition. It summons him privately before making use of drastic measures. But when everything else fails, then it courageously turns to the means of last resort.
Yes, love is always ready to speak the truth to those who display power. If the ever prideful selfishness delights in correcting harshly those who it belittles as low-class people, the ever humble love, for its part, confronts bravely those who are greedy for power and riches with their injustice and indifference towards the poor.
But it does so with regret and in the spirit of humility and charity. Love, to use St. Vincent de Paul’s words, is “never fond of playing the superior or the master,” it does not need to show who is the boss (Coste XI:346).
Love acknowledges that “it is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, to threaten … than to persuade,” that it is “more convenient to punish the rebellious than to correct them, supporting them with both firmness and kindness,” to cite St. John Bosco. When punishing, love shows the necessary restraint, lest one is left suspecting that it is all a matter of showing off authority or of ill humor being taken out on somebody.
Remaining firm and persevering in regard to ends, and flexible and gentle in regard to means, love shows itself truly concerned about the salvation and reconciliation of all. And if we are reconciled to one another, and share our possessions, so that no one suffers hunger or shame, then our Eucharistic celebration will be more meaningful and effective.
And it is not outside the realm of possibility that, while we pray gathered together, reconciled and agreeing on earth as a Christian community that we have presiders at the Eucharist, the Father may raise them up for us from among us and so supply our needs. So also it will be shown true that whatever we bind or loose on earth shall be bound and loosed in heaven.
Ross Reyes Dizon