Thursday, September 4, 2014

"If your brother sins against you..."

Our Gospel this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 (23A) is taken from a section of St Matthew’s Gospel in which he considers forgiveness in the community and how to deal with sinners. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with family, friends and church groups.

A Brother Who Has Sinned

Matthew adapts sayings of the historical Jesus to address the new situation of an established local church in need of due process to handle difficult problems. He compels us to consider the essential elements in the process of forgiveness among members of the Church community.

In Catholic tradition, one of the spiritual works of mercy is “Admonish the sinner.” "Admonish" comes from the Latin verb monere, which means "to warn." Admonishing sinners involves -- with utmost gentleness and kindness -- calling people out of their sin to a new life in friendship with Christ.

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. tells us that we are to "warn" others in appropriate ways that serious sin can lead to greater sins - without coming off as being condemning or judgmental. We owe a debt of love to our brothers and sisters (Rom 13:8-10). And love, according to Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, always does its best to dissuade a person from walking over a cliff. It's not easy, but that's the balance we must maintain as Christians.

When Christians are “all too human” and hurt each other, it is not a matter of who broke the rules. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says to genuinely forgive means that we refuse to allow the hurt to prevent us from growing and moving forward. And all the rules, Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains, are summed up in a single saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” To which college student Danielle Stewart rightly adds, "Love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

But if the relationship cannot be healed between the parties involved, Fr. John J. Ludvik reminds us that we need to reach out to friends - particularly friends in the church - as Christ suggests. But the most important place we will turn is to God, for it is from our relationship with God, not with another human being, that we draw our strength and our identity.

The Church: Binding and Loosing

The first reading from Ezekiel, explains Fr. Joseph Pellegino, speaks about the responsibility that we have to each other and to the Body of Christ - the Church. Fr. Phil Bloom elaborates further. You and I - by the way we live - are called to be watchmen: to help others turn from destruction and turn toward the one source of hope, Jesus the Savior of humanity.

In this Gospel text, we hear again that the Church has been given Christ's power to bind or loose, to forgive or not forgive sins. All of the Church's faithful enjoy Christ's presence, through the Holy Spirit, while assembled to praise and worship him and to pray in His name. Unfortunately, however, many are unaware that an encounter with Christ happens each time the liturgy is offered. Father Cusick says many allow themselves to become bored, are put off by the obligation to attend Mass, and many fall away.

Where two or more are gathered

As we come to the end of the text you might wonder about the last sentence in which Christ says, “If two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you… for where two or three met in my name I shall be there with them.”

Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS explains that these words are clearly about prayer. We need to realize that whatever the Christian community does is rooted in prayer. After all, our whole aim is to discern the will of the Father and we know that above everything else His will is that everyone on earth should be reconciled to Him. And at times, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.reminds us, it may be that Christ's healing truth will touch someone in need only through one of us.

Many Things Catholic

Most of us who are Catholics eventually get asked by our Protestant firends, “Why do you Catholics worship Mary?" Msgr. Charles Pope offers a new approach instead of a direct defense of our Blessed Mother. He suggests instead that we question the questioner with, "And why do you not honor Mary in accordance with Scripture?" And really start a bible conversation.

But we have to admit that mastery of the Holy Bible can be very difficult to achieve. It takes prayer, study, and constant reading and re-reading - not to mention an intimate familiarity the teachings of the Church Fathers. However, Taylor Marshall poits out that one can quickly acquire an "outline" of salvation history by learning the basic covenants of Scripture. The covenants provide the structure for the unfolding of God's plan. And ultimately all things are fulfilled in Christ in the New Covenant.

From the nation's capital we bring back an article with some pleasantly surprising news. The Washington Post - yes, the Washington Post - published a revealing article that takes a close look at Perpetual Adoration. They went to the St. John Neumann parish and found a perpetual procession of prayer. God really does work in mysterious ways.

Discernment — How can I learn God’s Will for me? Does God have one right choice for me in each decision I make? Dr. Peter Kreeft offers five general principles of discernment of God's will. While Bo Sanchez returns with a conversation he had with the female CEO of a leading European corporation. A cancer survivor, she attracts blessings—and Bo says you can too! He give us his "6 Strategies On How To Be Positive In A Negative World."

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.
Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

FEATURED BLOG: Life, Reproductive Health and Conscience
BURNING QUESTION: What are the four marks of the True Church?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus nos muestra como vivir en comunidad

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