TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle A/Year II (September 6, 2020)
Ez 33:7-9/Rom 13:8-10/Mt 18:15-20
Jesus Christ recommends fraternal correction in the gospel for this Sunday. He says that if somebody offends you, then you have to confront him/her alone, telling him/her his/her fault. This fraternal correction is commendable in practice since it not only avoids conflict but also heals broken relationship in a discreet manner that is not offensive to the concerned person. If this is not effective, then Jesus recommends inviting one or two witnesses who will mediate between the persons in conflict and will bridge the gap in their relationship. This is very effective as a professional mediator is often used by the government when there are conflicts between the government and other groups.
What is surprising is that if this second option does not still work, Jesus recommends that such problem be told in the Church. He does not recommend that it be submitted to the hands of the Jewish governor or king not even to the hands of the Roman general. He recommends the Church as the last recourse for reconciliation between persons in conflict. Certainly, in this case, Jesus is not talking about the Sacrament of Confession. Rather, He is showing to us the mediating aspect of priestly ministry. Moreover, the priest is also a judge, a function that is clearly seen in the Sacrament of Confession. With this, a priest can mediate between the persons in conflict and even judge what is to be done by both parties in order to solve the conflict.
As catholic Christians, we have to remember that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Judge and the Highest Mediator between God and man. Moreover, we also have to remember that the priests are the ministers of Christ and they function in His name and even in His very person. Consequently, it is good to follow the advice of Jesus of bringing persons in conflict to the Church instead of bringing them to the civil tribunal or even military tribunal. In fact, the Catholic Church has its own ecclesiastical tribunal where conflicts that affect ecclesiastical relationships and status can be tried. This ecclesiastical tribunal is the last recourse if the pastoral counselling of the priest does not work on the persons in conflict.
What Jesus Christ is showing us in His recommendation about the Church is the importance of God in our lives. It is in the Church founded by Christ that we can find the personal and sacramental presence of Jesus Christ. And, where Jesus is, there God is. God loves us and never abandons us especially in the times of our needs. Even if we do not feel His presence and even if it seems that He is away from us, the truth is He is near to us and He only awaits our call, our conversation with Him, our prayers.
Jesus tells us to go to the Church. It is in the Church that God grants us sacramental graces which capacitates us to handle our daily life’s crosses and tests. It in the Church that God transforms us to become like His Son Jesus Christ especially through the reception of the Holy Communion wherein we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is in the Church that we encounter God and we develop a strong relationship of love and commitment with Jesus Christ and with His Church.