Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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“Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.”

OPENING PRAYER

 Dedication to Jesus

 Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish You have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by Your will. Your love and Your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I’ll ask for nothing more.

Amen.

COLLECT

O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption,

look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,

that those who believe in Christ

may receive true freedom

and an everlasting inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ez 33:7-9

 Thus says the LORD:

You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;

when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”

and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,

the wicked shall die for his guilt,

but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked,

trying to turn him from his way,

and he refuses to turn from his way,

he shall die for his guilt,

but you shall save yourself.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

READING II

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2 Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;

for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;

you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”

and whatever other commandment there may be,

are summed up in this saying, namely,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no evil to the neighbor;

hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”1

CCC 2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”2 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”3 The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:

The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.4

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”5

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”6

CCC 2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness,7 whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”8 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relation ship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist.9

God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.10

1 Jn 15:9-10; cf. Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10.

2 Mt 22:36.

3 Mt 22:37-40; cf. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.

4 Rom 13:9-10.

5 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

6 Rom 13:8-10.

7 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4.

8 Rom 13:8.

9 Cf. Mt 5:23-24; 1 Jn 3:19-24.

10 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24.

GOSPEL

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Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If your brother sins against you,

go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.

If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.

If he does not listen,

take one or two others along with you,

so that ‘every fact may be established

on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.

If he refuses to listen even to the church,

then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Amen, I say to you,

Again, amen, I say to you,

 

if two of you agree on earth

about anything for which they are to pray,

it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name,

there am I in the midst of them.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091017.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”1 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”2 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles3 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

CCC 1088 “To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”’4

CCC 1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church:5 in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,”6 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,7 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present. .. most especially in the Eucharistic species.”8

CCC 1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”9 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”10

CCC 2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.11

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

1 Mt 16:19.

2 Jn 21:15-17; Cf. 10:11.

3 Cf. Mt 18:18.

4 SC 7; Mt 18:20.

5 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.

6 Mt 18:20.

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 SC 7.

9 Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20.

10 LG 22 # 2.

11 Cf. Mt 18:16.

APPLICATION

The Gospel is from St. Matthew 18:15-20. Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians today who pay no heed to the serious obligation of encouraging an erring brother to give up his sinful ways. They shrug it off by saying : “I have more than enough to do to keep myself from sin” or “am I my brother’s keeper”? The answer is in this lesson we have just read. We are our brothers’ keepers, and even if we have many temptations and inclinations to sin we shall not overcome them if we have no time to think of our neighbors’ need.

There are, alas, millions of lapsed or luke-warm Christians who could and would have been active members of Christ’s mystical body if their neighbors had fulfilled this grave obligation which Christ has imposed on us all. They are now a source of scandal to the weaker and youthful members of the Church, and an impediment to the possible acceptance of the faith by non-Christians. Would the Reformation, which has caused whole countries of the western world to lose almost all faith in Christ and indeed in God, have had such disastrous effects, if those who remained within the Church had put this law of fraternal charity into practice? However, it is no use crying over spilt milk! Let us see our present-day obligations and what we are doing to help our neighbors retain their Christian faith and practice. How much of the indifference to religion which the youth of today seems to be showing is due to lack of parental control and example? How many children of Christian families grow up as practical pagans because their Christian faith meant little or nothing to their parents? It is in the home that the religion of the next generation is firmly established or lost. When parents are loyal to their faith in their daily lives, their children will, as a rule, be loyal to it too; where parents are careless and lax their children will be still more careless and more lax.

Parents! the first neighbors and fellow Christians whom you must kindly and charitably correct are your own children. Their future salvation and your own too will depend on how well you fulfill this obligation. Parents who are obedient to Christ in this will find time and many opportunities to have a charitable word of help for an erring neighbor outside their household. On the other hand, the lax parents, who give little or no thought to getting to heaven or to their children getting there in God’s good time, will hardly bother with their neighbor’s salvation. Thus this cancer of infidelity and irreligion grows and spreads.

Let each one of us look into his past conduct in relation to this law of charity. Have we really tried to help our fellowmen on the road to heaven? Have we given them the good example of a truly Christian way of living? Have we offered advice and encouragement when it was needed, and correction in private where that was possible? If so “we have gained our brother.” We have brought a prodigal son back to a loving Father and that loving Father will repay us a hundred-fold in this life and especially in the next.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Birthday of Mary

Mary’s birthday is exceptional among the feasts in which honor is paid to saints, in that the Church usually does not celebrate the day of birth. The Church’s practice was quite different here from that of pagan Greece or Rome, where the birthday of a great man – a Caesar or an Augustus, for example – was celebrated with great pomp as a day of redemption. The Church always argued that it was premature to celebrate a birthday because the rest of the life of the person born on that day was subject to such ambiguity. It was, in other words, impossible to predict the answers to certain questions simply on the basis of a person’s birthday. Would his life really be a reason for celebrations? Would the person who was born really be able to be glad about the day that he came into the world? Would the world be glad that he was born?… No, the Church has always celebrated the day of death, believing that it is only possible to celebrate a person’s life when he has passed beyond that life into death and judgment… Mary was the gate through which he came into the world and not simply the external gateway. She had already conceived Jesus in her heart before she became his mother according to the body, as Augustine so meaningfully said. Her soul was the space from which God was able to gain access into humanity. Unlike the great and mighty ones of this earth, Mary, the believer who bore the light of God in her heart, was able to play her vital part in changing the very foundation of the world. The world can be truly changed only by the power of the soul.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of the Church:

Grant to us, Thy servants,

we beseech Thee, O Lord,

the gift of heavenly grace;

that to those for whom the delivery

of the Blessed Virgin

was the commencement of salvation,

the commemoration of her nativity

may give increasing peace.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known

that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help

or sought your intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto you,

O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you I come,

before you I stand,

sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but, in your mercy,

hear and answer me.

Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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