Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – 6 September 2020.
Lectionary Readings: Ez 33: 7-9; Ps 95:1-2. 6-8; Rm 13: 8-10; Mt 18:15-20
Theme: The sanctification of the other
This Sunday’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the responsibility that we have towards the other, our neighbour, the people with whom we live and by extension all humanity is human responsibility. The Word of God (his Torah) indicates and shows the right path to follow, the path that leads to God, however its application passes through human reality and the human relationship.
In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel draws attention to the duty to transmit the Word received. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, He delights in the repentant hearts of his sons and daughters, when he/she makes Teshuva, when he/she turns to Him. That is why God always creates all the conditions for the sinner to turn to Him, meaning receiving life. In the Scriptures the absence of God is considered the kingdom of death and listening to the Word of God and practicing is a source of life.
The Psalm summarises all the readings emphasising the absolute knowledge of God as the Creator and as the unique rock of salvation and only to Him should rejoice and proclaim the praises.
Paul, addressing the Gentiles, in this passage of his letter to the Romans, foreseeing the imminent end of time (vs 11-12), confirms the urgency and obligation of applying God’s commandments. His summary made, citing Lv 19, 18, does not exempt, in any way, the fulfilment of all the precepts of the list above. It is actually a condensed way to motivate the pagan-Christian community that should seek to sanctify the other and bring about the salvation of the other in the community. For Paul the requirements for the Nations that while Nations, through Jesus Christ, are associated with citizenship of, are the same for the people of Israel, except what makes Israel the chosen people.
The Gospel, that appears after Paul’s teachings, likewise reflects the constitution of the formation of the community of Jesus’ followers and insists on the means of internal correction to the life of the community. The formation of the Saints’ community presupposes concern for the other, no one is saved alone and the salvation takes place from the community. It should be noted that Matthew’s text directly follows Scripture and Jewish commentaries of his time. The brother’s correction is founded on Lev 19: 17; two or three witnesses, is according to Dt 19: 15. The dependence of the Heavens on the earth, see also tbAvoda Zarah 25a. About the agreement between two people, corresponds to the discussion in Mishnah 1.1 and where two or three are gathered in the name of God, the Shehina is present among them, see tbSanhedrin 7a. The relationship with God and his presence with us depends on the fulfilment of God’s Word that takes place in our relationship with the other, by our effort to build a holy community, starting with our neighbour and the community in which we are part.
Bibliography: McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Br Elio Passeto, nds, Israel