Homily – 6th September, 2020

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

“If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone…”

Silhouette of a woman and man arguingToday’s readings tell us about a very important mission that we have received from God, especially in the sacraments of our baptism and confirmation. In the first reading, God says to the prophet Ezekiel: I have appointed you as sentry of the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name.

What does it mean to be a sentry of something or someone? What is this profession about? I don’t think any of us would like to receive such a difficult mission from God, because just as none of us likes to be warned by others, neither of us likes to warn other people. And I think none of us would like to attend Mass and listen to homilies or speeches full of warnings? We wouldn’t like to have a priest who regularly gives this kind of homily in our church.

Recently, we have heard so many warnings coming from different sources, especially from media and from the Internet. We can get a lot of warnings all around saying: wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance and a lot like these, and I know how much we are tired of all these things. But I think that today God wants to tell us something very important, that every warning that is an expression of care and love for other people is the fulfillment of this important mission that God has entrusted us.

I have appointed you as sentry… When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. Through this first reading, God wants to tell something more. He wants to tell us that – just like Ezekiel – each of us can be a sentry for other people and that this mission is very important, responsible and sometimes even unpleasant or dangerous. Our English martyrs like John Fisher and Thomas More, who warned King Henry VIII many times against his immoral life, gave us an excellent example of this.

Today God wants to remind us about our responsibility for others. Just as we are responsible for the safety, health and life of other people especially in current circumstances, we are even more responsible for their salvation and eternal life. Parents are responsible for their children, the spouses are responsible for each other, the priest is responsible to his parishioners, and finally as a Christian community – we are all responsible for one another. I am convinced that God reminds me today of my responsibility for the parish he entrusted to me exactly one year ago. Time goes by very fast and today is my first anniversary since I am with you at Saint Edward’s Parish. So today is my first anniversary since God said to me: I have appointed you as sentry of the St Edward’s Parish. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name.

There is one more interesting thing that God said to Ezekiel, to me and to each of us. He said: When you hear a word from my mouth – then – warn them in my name. What does it mean? It means that he said: you need to listen to me first, you need to hear a word from my mouth before you start doing anything, otherwise your mission will bear no fruit.

I think this is a very important condition that we must implement in our life in order for our mission to be credible and fruitful – we need to listen to the Word of God. We need to listen to the Gospel when we come for Mass, but we can also buy a Bible and read it regularly at home because only then, only strengthened by this extraordinary Word that comes from God’s mouth, we can be successful in our mission of bringing people to Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that fraternal warning should follow some rules. If your brother does something wrong, go ahead and tell him in person. I think this advice from Jesus is very relevant to us and it is worth applying it in our daily lives. I think it’s worth remembering these extremely useful advices, and before we point out someone’s sins or weaknesses in our gossips or on social media or instead of writing and sending any complaints, it may be worth meeting first and telling the person directly face to face. Let these four steps – which Jesus teaches us about in today’s Gospel – be a valuable instruction for us how to be a good sentry, but also how to love and care for our all brothers and sisters.

  • If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone…
  • If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…
  • If he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community…
  • If he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

And finally, at the very end, Jesus gives us a very positive and optimistic message that encourages us to return and gather in our church. Of course, following all our regulations at the same time. He says to us: Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them. Trusting that God is always with us when we gather to celebrate our Sunday Mass, and that he always listens to our prayers – in a moment of silence – let us entrust to him all our petitions. Amen.

Fr Gregory