Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

23rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: SOME RULES ON COMMUNITY LIVING

Mt 18: 15-20

GOD HAD A vision for his people. In the Old Testament, God gave some laws as guide for the "People of God". In the New Testament, Jesus had envisioned that the community of his disciples should make a difference. He envisioned the community of Christians as a loving community. The said community is governed by love. Thus, in the teachings of Jesus, included are the so-called rules on community living. The readings today present to us some of these rules. These rules guide us on our day-to-day living. Let us examine once again the emphases of today’s readings and let us try to reflect on them:
 
Firstly, we heard in the First Reading of the mission of Ezekiel to become a “watchman” for the house of Israel. The role of the watchman is not to become a busybody, but rather to live with a wide-eyed awareness to what is good, right and life-giving. The watchmen have a sense of what is good. Moreover, watchmen are able to sense some danger. Watchmen would sense what is dangerous for the individual and for the community. Watchmen can then sound the alarm; they can sound the call to action, as well as the prophetic call to change. 
 
A community which emphasizes privacy and independence may not have any room for watchmen. Thus, to be a watchman may not be popular today. But let us remember that we are brothers and sisters to each other. As such, we should show concern to others; we should be keepers to each other. Our concern for each other would call us to be a watchman to the community where we belong. However, this concern also points to the greater community: the world. Some world leaders today found out that they could not afford to be independent. We have noticed that some world leaders have bonded themselves to protect the world from danger, from terrorism, for example. When they see an imminent danger, they would do something to prevent it from happening. They have become watchmen of the world. And that is a good development.
 
Secondly, St Paul in the Second Reading exhorts the Romans to “owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another.” So, we do not only show our concern to the other, but we should also love the other. Love and concern are very much related. Only those people who love can show concern toward another. Loving is not only showing what could be considered “comfortable” by the other. If we truly love the person, we would always tell him or her what we want to say, and what we want the person should do, even if this appears as a discomfort to him or her. Even if it offers discomfort and pain to the other, we have to take note that “love does no evil to the neighbor,” as St Paul says.
 
Thirdly, Jesus in the gospel gives an exhortation on fraternal correction. He says that if a person sins against you, the next thing you should do is “to go and tell his fault between you and him alone.” This does not happen always though. When a person has done something wrong against us, we usually create a wall between that person and us. We usually have the feeling of not talking to that person. What we want is that this person instead should come to us, and should say sorry to us. But what if the person does not know that he has already hurt you? What we should do? 
 
For Jesus, even if we are hurting, we should go to the person and tell him that he has done wrong to us. It may be difficult because it would mean getting rid of our pride. The work of correcting our erring brothers or sisters may not be easy. It gives us a great discomfort. It can be embarrassing. And it can be risky too because it might lose a long-established friendship. Therefore, some people would rather prefer silence, not to say any word to an erring brother, sister or friend, lest that he or she may be hurt. But there are times when failure to speak out is actually condoning an evil deed or practice. And this does not promote growth in the community or the community life at all. 
 
Again, as a Church, we are a community of believers. As brothers and sisters to each other, we should show our concern and love for each other. Our community leaders should take the role of “good watchmen” for the community, while we members shall love each other, and also, we shall correct each other for the sake of the growth of community life. Amen.
 

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