HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time Year A
First Reading : Ezekiel 33:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10
Gospel: Matt 18:15-20
Theme: The Brotherhood We Share
There’s a saying in a Akan that “No one buys a bottle of wine to bless and wish his enemies well”: to wit “one simply doesn’t pray for his enemies to succeed in life. Arguably the most difficult spiritual work of Mercy for an individual to perform is that of admonishing the sinner or an enemy, yet it is an important duty for Catholics. Our readings for today’s liturgy draw our attention to *the brotherhood we share* as _qahal Yahweh_, ( God’s people).
Explanation of the Text
The first reading talks about a mandate being given to the Prophet as a watchman. The Prophet is thus charged with the responsibility of correcting and admonishing the wicked person to turn away from his wicked ways. His role is to offer fraternal correction and instructions to the wayward. Failure to do this would be held against him. He has no option than to speak up. The Hebrew term for a watchman _Sōpeh_ has a nuance of a person who watches over a city in times of war. Such a person has a critical role to play for the survival of the town. His warnings are to be taken serious.
My dear friends in Christ, brotherhood is the very price and condition of man’s survival. And this is exactly the same thing Jesus is talking about in our Gospel reading of today. Jesus speaks about how to remain brothers in the church. He is not being naive nay oblivious that disagreement and misunderstanding will arise in our communities. He however, suggests ways of dealing with it.
Firstly, they are to be dealt with on a personal level between two people. Secondly the involvement of the whole community is suggested and this is perhaps to eliminate the possibility of false witnesses. It is only after this that the relationship can be foundered.
And thus a brother is to be treated like a Gentile and a tax collector.
It is interesting to note that Jesus didn’t mean a total breakdown of brotherhood but the reference to the Gentile and Tax collector suggests some level of rapport must still exist between the two estranged brothers. This is seen in Mtt 5:46-47, where Jesus makes allusion to the fact that Gentiles do exchange pleasantries and greetings among themselves and the Tax collectors do love themselves.
For Jesus then, anytime men make the conscious effort to live in peace and harmony, His presence is with them. But the secret of what holds the brotherhood together is what Paul espouses in our second reading- love_.Love therefore serves as a cord that binds all relationship.
My dear people of God, people are now realizing that colour, race, tribe, religion and other accidentals have no bearing on what’s known as brotherhood. In this difficult period of Covid-19 pandemic where many are struggling to survive, what we need is tolerance and brotherhood and simple humanity. _We should remember that either men learn to live like brothers, or they die like beasts.
Have A Blessed Sunday
Rev. Fr. Isaac Atta Mensah