HOMILY 23rd SUNDAY of Ordinary Time Year A
Good Advice for any Community, School, Church or Family!
Good advice for living in peace.
⁃ Speaking out against wrong.
God tells the prophet Ezekiel;
‘if you see someone doing wrong, and do nothing, they will die for their sins, but I will hold YOU responsible for their death.’
‘But if you warn them, and they continue to do wrong, they will die for their sin, but you will be saved.’
We can often be quick to turn a blind eye to things that we know are wrong; perhaps we’re scared, or we like to avoid conflict, or we don’t want to offend.
Speaking out can be hard.
This week I’ve been spending a lot of time with the new year 7s at JOA, reflecting on the life of St Joan, and discovering how hard standing up and speaking out can be. It cost Joan her life.
More often it can cost us in other ways: in our relationships – family and friendships – or even professional status, look at Jacob Rees-Mogg after he shared his opinion this week.
But, God tells Ezekiel that the consequences of doing nothing are just as bad.
⁃ In the Gospel, Jesus confirms this command, giving ‘step by step’ instructions:
‘if someone does wrong, go and speak to THEM.’
⁃ when we get hurt or offended by what others do, the temptation is to run to someone who we know will side with us to ’VENT’.
⁃ Notice how we very rarely go to people who are likely to give us some balance or a sense of perspective. This type of venting is actually just gossip. It’s like trying to put out a fire with petrol! We share only OUR experience, from our place of pain, which is then validated by somebody on our side – a war has begun.
⁃ If we follow Jesus’ words and go to the offender, there is a chance for conversation, for understanding, for apology, reconciliation and healing.
But HOW do we do this right?
What stops us becoming angry, judgemental, bigots condemning anyone who seems to be at odds with some element of Church teaching.
Or what stops these face-to-face encounters turning into arguments or worse?
The 2nd Reading reminds us: ‘all the commandments… are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself.’
It is loves that reminds us that we too make mistakes
⁃ that we have said and done things that have hurt others.
⁃ Love reminds us that none of us have any moral high ground over anybody else.
The reading tells us: ‘Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour.’
We know when someone is speaking to us out of love. It speaks to our hearts.
⁃ It may challenge us. It might be uncomfortable or even sting a bit, and it may take a while to appreciate!
But we know when we have been loved.
And this is why our prayer for one another and ourselves must be that of today’s psalm:
⁃ ‘O that today you would listen to [God’s] voice! Harden not your hearts’.
But sometimes we don’t have it in us to make that prayer.
We can be too hurt or too angry.
This is when we need God’s grace!
And so Jesus gives us his grace through the Sacraments:
And in a special way in Holy Communion. The Eucharist:
⁃ the fullness of his presence within us,
⁃ working within us, healing us, softening our hearts for our own good and the good of those we love. Helping us become people who are forgiving, patient, at peace.
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A