September 6, 2020 • Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7–9
Psalm: Psalm 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–9 (8)
Second Reading: Romans 13:8–10
Gospel Acclamation: 2 Corinthians 5:19
Gospel: Matthew 18:15–20
For this Sunday’s Old Testament, the Psalm, and the Gospel readings. I thought I would provide another sample of the commentary from The Didache Bible with commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Bible Edition, published by the Midwest Theological Forum, Inc, and Ignatius Press. Link: https://bit.ly/3i0aQ5U
For the New Testament reading, the commentary is from The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, The New Testament, published by the Ignatius Press. Link: https://bit.ly/322SviW
Both Bible editions use the Revised Standard Version – Second Catholic Edition for their Bible text. I find them to be excellent for use in my Bible studies and for Lectio Divina. I heartily recommend them for your consideration if you are looking for some good, solid Catholic study Bibles.
I have also provided the cited paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I included the commentary on the following eleven verses because it shows God does not desire or rejoice in the death of the wicked. He would much rather that they turn from their wicked ways and turn to Him for forgiveness and restoration and find eternal life.
Ezekiel 33:1–9 Ezekiel resumed his role as the watchman over Israel who transmitted God’s Word to his people regardless of whether they accepted it or not. By this time, Jerusalem had fallen, giving the prophet greater responsibility as a watchman amid conflict. Now his mission was to address those who had been unfaithful to the covenant, moving them to repentance and conversion.
33:10–20 The exiled Jews, knowing that their plight was due to their sins, realized that repentance and forgiveness would lead God to forgive and show mercy. No sinner is ever beyond redemption and forgiveness no matter how grave the sin. The belief that we cannot be forgiven is a sin of despair in violation of the First Commandment. (CCC 2091) (Didache Bible)
2091 The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption:
By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice — for the Lord is faithful to his promises — and to his mercy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
95 On most mornings this hymn opens the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. This is appropriate since it calls everyone together to sing and pray to the Lord and become aware of his presence; it is a hymn of joy and thanksgiving to God our King. The psalm also urges his people to remain faithful and not to doubt and rebel as the Israelites did at Meribah. These words hearken to the time when the people, parched with thirst as they wandered through the desert, rebelled against Moses and believed that God had abandoned them. Moses, fearing he would be stoned, asked God to provide them with water, and God fulfilled the request miraculously by causing water to gush out of the rock when Moses struck it with his rod. Moses gave that place the name Meribah, which means “contention,” because the people challenged the Lord there. (Didache Bible)
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything: Obligations to governing authorities (13:7) are surpassed by the duty to love others — a debt that always remains outstanding and is never paid off. Our ability to obey the commandments is possible only by the inward help of the Spirit, who pours divine love into our hearts and makes consistent obedience possible (5:5; 8:4) (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1827). (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)
1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which “binds everything together in perfect harmony”; it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
13:9 The commandments: Paul distills four of the seven commandments of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:13–17) into one: love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; Galatians 5:14). One’s “neighbor” has the widest possible application and includes enemies (Matthew 5:44) and anyone in need (Luke 10:25–37) (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2196). (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Love one another even as I have loved you.”
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.”
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.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (New American Bible Revised Edition)
Here I have provided a summary commentary on the Gospel reading. The detailed commentary went on for pages. It is important to note that when Jesus says that we are to consider those who are expelled from the Church due to the obstinacy in sin as Gentiles and tax collectors, it does not mean that we are to look down on them and treat them like the Pharisees did but rather we are to seek to win them back to the fold like Jesus did.
The purpose of church discipline is always to be redemptive at its core. I was part of a nondenominational church that did discipline and expel a leader enmeshed in mortal sin, but they made it clear to both the expelled leader and the congregation that the goal was for him to repent and come back to God and the church. And he did eventually return for good and was restored. It worked in his case. When he came back, they threw a feast for him like the father of the prodigal son. The main point is stopping the enmeshed individual from continuing his or her self-deception as well as deceiving and tempting their brothers and sisters in Christ so that they can clearly see their choices.
Matthew 18:15–20 The faithful are urged to “intervene” or give “fraternal correction” for a member of the faithful who is obstinate in breaking the moral law. It is an act of great charity to help those who have strayed from the truth in matters of faith or morals, always done with prudence and kindness. Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector: The final consequence for those who refuse to listen is separation from the Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 817, 822) (Didache Bible)
817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church — for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.” The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body — here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism — do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
822 Concern for achieving unity “involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.” But we must realize “that this holy objective — the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ — transcends human powers and gifts.” That is why we place all our hope “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The readings are about our merciful God who desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth concerning where they are really at with Him and how to find their way back to Him, if they find themselves estranged from Him upon examination.
One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and I think this verse applies:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
Your thoughts and comments are encouraged and appreciated.