Daily Reflection
September 5th, 1999
Larry Gillick, S.J.
The Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 33:7-9
Rom 13:8-10
Mt 18:15-20
"Brothers and sisters, owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."  Paul writes this opening line of this Sunday's second reading holding back nothing with the power of its simplicity.

Ezekiel has shared with us in the first reading, likewise powerful words, but not as simple.  The prophet has heard from God that he must perform the task of warning others about their wickedness.  If he, the prophet refuses to do so, he, and the wicked will die.

The Gospel for today pictures Jesus echoing Ezekiel, but intensifying the responsibility that His followers have, to form and reform the other members of His company.  If your sister or brother sins against you, go and tell him or her by yourself.  Simple?  Intense?  Emotionally and relationally, this might be the most difficult teaching Jesus ever spoke.  Jesus doesn't let up either, He gives instructions for the process we now call, "intervention".  This is a terrible responsibility and we feel like asking for a "second opinion".

  Talking the talk of love, as Paul writes, is a sweet melody.  We say "yes" "Count me in".  The law of love which completes all other laws is easy until we hear Ezekiel and Jesus speak sour words which involve walking the walk of love which lead our feet right over to her door or his office or their yard.

The very difficult aspect of Jesus' teaching today is for you and me to decide whether the other person has really sinned against us, or are we simply displeased, annoyed and or angry at something someone else did or said.  Our egos and personal sensitivity make this discernment both necessary and very difficult.  To confront lovingly, that is the hard part.  To desire what is best for the other, that takes time and sometimes help from someone more objective.  The final words of today's gospel help us to be both courageous and caring, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them"  Confrontation, intervention, sharing our feelings all can mask our selfishness.  Loving others enough to give them, themselves takes prayer, care and time.  For this we desperately hunger for His Eucharistic presence and grace.

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