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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Speaking Out in Love

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the final verses of today’s Gospel reading Jesus says that when two or three are gathered in his name, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). So we understand that fraternal correction is always undertaken in the presence of Jesus Christ. Likewise, encouraging the good in others is not only the right thing for us to do, it is a necessity. The LORD tells the prophet Ezekiel that if he does not speak out to dissuade a person from evil, then he too will be held responsible. We live in a “do your own thing” age where moral objectivity is often ignored. Clearly when the message we share with others is rooted in love, our motives cannot ever be misinterpreted. As Saint Paul writes, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).

“Fraternal Correction” by Norman Rockwell

Reflecting on God’s Word

During the first few months of marriage, the honeymoon period, the one we love may seem perfect to us. He or she can do nothing wrong. Soon, though, reality sets in and we start accumulating hurts. We may hurt one another knowingly or unknowingly. It’s much the same in a family or a community. Sooner or later our love for one another is tested by sin and human weakness. Will we put up with the other’s behavior or confront it? Which choice reflects true love? Today Paul recalls some signs of true love; he reminds us what those who love will not do. The other Scriptures bring out some of the surprising signs of true love. Loving one another just might involve nagging, confronting, fighting, or telling family secrets. It will certainly involve mutual respect and acceptance, along with a healthy dose of prayer for each other. And true love will seek constantly to call forth the best in the ones we love.

Living God’s Word

We might hope for a change of heart from someone we love or a member of our community. But first we must change our own hearts by forgiving and accepting the other in true love. True love begins with recognizing our own “faults” and softening our hearts toward the ones we love.

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Readings for the Week

Monday: Mi 5:1-4a o/or Rom 8:28-30; Ps 13 (13):6; Mt 1:1-16, 18-23 [18-23]
Tuesday: 1 Cor 6:1-11; Ps 149 (148):1b-6a, 9b; Lk 6:12-19
Wednesday: 1 Cor 7:25-31; Ps 45 (44):11-12, 14-17; Lk 6:20-26
Thursday: 1 Cor 8:1b-7, 11-13; Ps 139 (138):1b-3, 13-14ab, 23-24; Lk 6:27-38
Friday: 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22b-27; Ps 84 (83):3-6, 12; Lk 6:39-42
Saturday: 1 Cor 10:14-22; Ps 116 (115):12-13, 17-18; Lk 6:43-49
Sunday: Nm 21:4b-9; Ps 78 (77):1-2, 34-38; Phil/Fil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time; Grandparents Day
Monday: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Tuesday: St. Peter Claver
Thursday: Patriots Day
Friday: The Most Holy Name of Mary
Saturday: St. John Chrysostom

Treasures from Our Tradition

We know for certain that the sacrament of penance was a fairly rare event in the life of a Christian in the early centuries, but that everyone had a duty to admit their sins and ask forgiveness before giving thanks in the Sunday Eucharist and receiving Christ’s Body and Blood at the table. Everyone today is familiar with this same ancient pattern. We also know about Lent and its journey of renewal, and even those who are returning from summer vacations may speak of a fresh perspective on life and a resolve to do better. Saint Augustine spoke of a third kind of penance, beyond the turning of the catechumens to a different life, beyond the normal everyday fresh starts, to a form that is severe and serious. Certain sins broke faith with the community: the sinners were obliged to give their names to the bishop and were barred from participation in the Eucharist. Augustine mentioned sacrilege, adultery, and murder as the culprits, great wounds for the perpetrator, wounds that were serious, deadly, mortal. Penance was such a frightening prospect that many people delayed their baptism for fear that they would sin, a practice with which Augustine was well acquainted. Pastoral need would eventually call the church to reconsider its practice.

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