Homily for the twenty-third Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 18:15-20
Father Daniel Meynen
Jesus said to 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 gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, 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 I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
"Jesus said to 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 gained your brother.' "
After humanity's first murder took place, that is, after Cain killed his brother Abel, God said to Cain: " 'Where is Abel your brother?' - Cain replied: 'I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?' " (Gn. 4:9) And from century to century, from millennium to millennium, human history unfolds as follows: no one cares about his brother, to the point that hundreds of thousands or even millions of people die each year while we do nothing, or very little, to save them...
Who truly cares for his brother? Who truly loves his neighbor and tries to save him at any cost? For each man, woman, or child who lives on this earth is our neighbor: each human being has a soul and a body to save! We are all responsible for each other: as followers of Christ, we are responsible for the soul of our brother; as citizens, we are obliged to look after the corporeal life of our brother!
The Church and the State each have their respective responsibility: the Church should above all take care of souls; and the State should above all watch over the material well-being of citizens. Does each take good care of its own area of concern? Does the Church always believe that "Prima lex salus animarum", the first law is the salvation of souls? Does the Church always try to have holy priests, rather than priests who are intelligent and who hold university degrees? And what about States? Will they finally put everything into motion to save our planet from an ecological disaster?
" 'But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.' "
Even if we do all that is in our power to save our brother, there are cases, and perhaps they are numerous, in which any attempt at reconciliation is destined to failure... Let us remember Jesus upon the Cross of Calvary; he said to his Father: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46) Some have commented on this passage, saying that Jesus was thinking at that moment of the great number of people for whom his salvific sacrifice would be vain and useless... This impression in the spirit of Jesus was such that it produced in him something like a feeling of being abandoned by his Father...
Even if only for a few, Jesus suffered the torture of the Cross... Doubtless, not everyone will be saved, but to him it was worth suffering so much for those who will be saved! That is the spirit of the Savior of men! That is the spirit of the Church! And what about States? What spirit do they have? Will they do everything to prevent our planet from warming? Doubtless they will not be able to prevent all global warming, but couldn't they prevent some of it? Would it not be worth the trouble to do all they can to improve our planetary lot? For, if there is any global warming, which is something that no one can deny anymore, we do not yet know precisely the rate of this warming...
" 'Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' "
A holy priest wrote, a few centuries ago, that these two or three who must gather together in order for Jesus to be in their midst are none other than the soul and the body of every man and woman, coming together in the contemplation of interior prayer, which then allows a third to come and join them: the Holy Spirit! For it is truly the Holy Spirit who "intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Rm. 8:26).
If the Holy Spirit is there with us, then Mary, who is the Spouse of the Spirit of God, is there too! May the Most Blessed Mother of God help us all to pray with a single heart and a single soul, in order that the whole man might be saved: his eternal soul and his temporal body! Amen!
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