23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 6, 2020

23A20.    Ezekiel 33:7-9.  God, speaking to Ezekiel, tells him that he Ezekiel must relay the warning that God wants to be given to the wicked man or else he Ezekiel will be held responsible for the wicked man’s death, should he not repent.  Failure to obey God’s call to warn the guilty party will be seen to be just as evil as that man’s wickedness but, if we do our duty and warn the wicked man, then we will not be punished.

Matthew 18:15-20.  Knowing that he is near to leaving his believers as a person who could physically and visibly walk among his disciples,  Jesus leaves instructions on how keep order and discipline in his church.  First, try to get the sinner to get his life in order by appealing to him one on one; but, if that fails, next bring in one or two others, to help the sinner to straighten out his life.  Yet if that fails, then bring him to the church assembly; but if that fails, treat him as one whom no longer wishes to be one of God’s people.  In other words, Jesus is saying that as his church we have the duty to exercise responsibility for one another as God’s agents in this world.   Church is any assembly or congregation of God’s people, even if it is just two or three believers.  Jesus promises to be present and active in the midst of those who gather in his name.  To gather in his name means that the believers come together as branches that are totally dependent on the one vine that is Jesus. (John 15:5)  Just as soldiers go into battle under one flag, the believers are united to one another through their mutual belief in Jesus as the Messiah.  We who are physically in this world speak and act in behalf of and in the name of Jesus.  We are ambassadors or people who represent Jesus.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20:  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Romans 13:8-10.   Paul says, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” He is saying that we are no longer bound by the Hebrew Law or Torah.  Our only law is to love God who is love and perfect obedience to him.  Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”  In John 15:10: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

Note: When Jesus uses the expression ‘my commandments’, he is not referring to the ten Commandments of the Old Testament BUT being obedient to his WILL.  His will is his love for us.  The Old Testament commandments were a few ‘do this’ but mainly ‘don’t do this or that.  Obeying God’s will is infinitely more comprehensive than the Ten Commandments.  Do his will; obey his word and absolutely NOTHING else.  His will is his love for us.  Jesus said in John 14:23b:  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  That is heaven on earth.