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Homily For Ordinary 23 - Proper 18 - Year A
Friar Sydney Mascarenhas. O.F.M., Ph.D


     The following Homily is provided by Friar Sidney as a way
     of enriching the ministry of the Word as presented through
     this web site.  Friar Sidney, who has spent much of his
     ministry in India, is currently a Professor of Philosophy
     in Rome.  He can be reached at smascarenhas@ofm.org.  The texts
     used by Friar Sydney come from the Roman Lectionary - which in
     most points agrees with the Revised Common Lectionary.


READINGS:  
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; and Matthew 18:15-20


INTRODUCTION:
Evil and wrongs exist.  How do we face evil and wrongs?  The
readings today provide us some very incisive insights.  


HOMILY:
A laissez-affaire style of life seems very attractive.  Live and
let live seems a great principle to go by.

But immagine a mother or father who would allow a babe take a
pointed knife and put it in its mouth!  Immagine parents who
would allow a babe take hold of a spray of deadly insecticide.
Surely, only foolish parents would allow such freedom for their
babe.  Even animals are protective about their cubs!

But of course, today's readings are not talking about the Parent-
child relationship.  Today's readings are dealing with an Adult-
adult relationship.  What do I do when an Adult seriously wrongs
me?

Do I start talking about the wrong done with everybody?  Do I
brood over it with a glum-face?  Do I abuse the person who
wronged me?  Shall I complain day in day out about the incident
like a Jeremiah?  Shall I just silently bear the wrong that has
been done?  Shall I pretend it was a misunderstanding or a
communication gap and short-circuit?

The readings of today provide us some very astonishing ways to
deal creatively with such delicate situations.

In the first reading, we are bluntly told that we must all feel
responsible for such situations.  All those involved must assume
responsibility for the clumsy state of affairs.  This is a very
important first principle that should govern the attitude of
both: the wrong doer as well as the one who is wronged.  This is
a basic attitude that we should adopt before we begin any damage
control of the situation.  A Holier than thou attitude can only
exasperate such situations.

The second reading provides us another basic principle: we should
adopt in order to deal creatively with such situations: Love.  If
any situation is to develop creatively, we need to adopt an
attitude of understanding, caring and sympathy.  Love does work
wonders.  True love, based on faith and hope, fosters creative
interest in each other despite unsurmountable antipathies.

Finally, today's Gospel provides us the structure and procedure
within which these two above attitudes should operate.  We should
adopt three steps towards a solution:

The first step requires the wronged person to take the
initiative.  He must meet the wrong doer and talk things over. 
He must not wait for the wrongdoer to approach him.  If the two
are able to agree, then, something great has been achieved.

The next step follows only if the two are not able to agree.  In
this case again, the wronged party must take the initiative.  The
wronged party needs to involve a third party in the matter.  The
third party's advice on the matter should be final.

If this step also does not succeed, then the wronged party should
accept the fact that the wrongdoer does not see eye to eye.  The
Gospel speaks about treating him or her as a pagan or a tax
collector.

A pagan is anyone who lives by his fears, emotions and desires.
He or she has not known the action, mercy and compassion of God.
He does not know that God has created all.  He does not know that
God came to live with all.  He does not believe that God wishes
to make everyone whole.  In short, a pagan lives and acts by his
feelings.  A pagan refuses to live in the image of the Triune
God.  A pagan refuses to face situations and people in a
creative, redemptive and sanctifying manner.  A pagan is not
bothered about the fact that he is made in the likeness of the
Triune God.

A tax collector only knows to count and collect the dues of
everybody except his or her own.  A tax collector forgets that he
or she also has to pay his or her dues.  A tax collector never
writes off dues.  A tax collector knows no mercy as revealed by
the Triune God.

In short, when we are wronged, it is the one who is hurt who must
take the initiative for healing the relationship.  He first does
so directly.  If this fails, he asks others to mediate.  Second,
if both ways fail, let us beware off becoming pagans or tax
collectors.  But let us be daring enough to accept the fact that
there are pagans and tax collectors amidst us.  At any rate, both
the one who is hurt as well as the wrongdoer must love one
another as God Himself, the Triune God, loves us.  The Triune God
lets His Sun shine on the Good as well as the Evil. 

Shalom! 

   
copyright - Friar Sydney Mascarenhas and  Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1999 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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