Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

Matthew 18: 15 – 20


Lord, you are divine energy and living irresistible might; Since, of the two of us it is you who are infinitely the stronger, it is you who must set me ablaze and change me into fire that we may be welded together and made one.

Before you commence your time of prayer using today’s reading I suggest you take a good look at Chapter eighteen.  Having done this you will have a clear understanding of the context that surrounds this reading.

The early part of Chapter 18 is devoted to how we relate to each other, particularly to the most vulnerable in society.  Pause to reflect on, “Whoever humbles himself is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (18: 4)

This is followed by the parable of the “Lost Sheep”.  The final sentence is of great importance.  Spend some time taking in all the implications of, “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (18: 10)

Following today’s reading, we meet Peter being told how many times to forgive. “Forgive, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  (18: 22)  This certainly makes us sit up and think!

The parable of the unforgiving servant closes with,  “Forgive your brother from your heart.”

* * * * *

Every time when we visit the Scriptures we are offered a Moment of Grace.

Take your time reading this gospel.  What message do you take from the parts that are printed in colour?  Can you recognize the grace that God is offering you?

15Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother does something wrong, go and tell him his fault, between your two selves.  If he listens to you, you have won back our brother.  16If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you; the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge.  17But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community, and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

18I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in haven.

19I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven.

20For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”

* * * * *

Clearly this text is addressed to you and me; everybody in our community.  There is no mention of persons who have authority. The whole community has a role in binding and loosing (forgiving or not forgiving) and the whole community is involved in praying for reconciliation.   We are advised to approach the person who has done wrong.  So often we spend our time talking to everybody else and never going to the one person who is involved.  Our approach is not to condemn but rather with a view to forgiveness and reconciliation.

We find it extremely difficult to forgive.  No wonder we are reminded to,  “Ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven.”  Pray earnestly for the grace to forgive, for the grace to let go of the hurt deep down inside you.  Only when we let go will it be possible for us to experience the harmony of, “Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”  When forgiveness is offered, healing takes place.  The first healing is in the person who offers unconditional forgiveness.  Once we find peace within ourselves we are able to offer it to those who have hurt us.  Finally there will be room for the broken relationship to be restored.

It is in forgiving and accepting forgiveness that we most resemble our God.

This is what the seventh beatitude is all about.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (5: 9)


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