Within the Scriptures this weekend we are reminded of our responsibilities when we claim to be followers of God. In the first reading we hear how Ezekiel was told that he had a responsibility to speak up; when God told him that someone was doing wrong. We have been informed of what is right and what is wrong through our upbringing and through the word of Scripture throughout our life, therefore, we are not to stand back idly when we see another person stray from the faith.
This message continues in the Gospel where we hear Jesus give instructions on what to do if a brother does something wrong. We are initially to have a quiet word; one to one; encouraging the person back to good behaviour. Jesus then outlines steps to use if this method fails. We hope it never gets to the stage where we treat them as tax collectors or pagans. I use this ‘quiet word’ approach in my professional life as well as when communicating with friends and parishioners, I find it easier to have a quiet word than to wait until there are others around; I also think it is a more personable approach, engaging with the individual in a non-threatening way.
In the 1960’s The Beatles sang a song called “All you need is love”, don’t worry, I’m not going to compare the Beatles to Jesus; John Lennon already made that mistake. But the essence of their song that all you need is love is true. This is the message Jesus gave all those centuries ago. Love is the answer to all of the Commandments; this is what St Paul is telling the Church in Rome in the excerpt used in our second reading today.
Elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says, ”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 neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Mat 22:37-40]. Jesus is telling us that love is everything; without love we cannot exist, love is the essence of life.
Last week I gave an example of a policeman who gave his life to try and help someone who was in deep distress. At the end of the 09:00 Mass, where I preached, Fr Jean-Patrice linked what I had said with the policeman who is integral to the story in the film Sound of Freedom,1 this is a film which highlights the horrors of slavery, where children are kidnapped to become sexual slaves in the so-called developed world.
I went to see this film last week with some other parishioners [as it turns out I was at the same showing as Fr JP], the efforts of the people who made this film to get it to the cinemas is worthy of another film in itself. The producers faced so much resistance from the establishment; both in and outside of the media. This film is something all right minded people should see. Whilst the topic may be harrowing, the resolve of the policeman who sacrificed and risked so much to help these children is remarkable. When we look at this film and remember the words from our first reading today, we become duty bound to highlight the way these children are being wronged.
When we love God and love our neighbour then we are living as Christ taught us. We are called to put our love into action. It is not enough for us to say, we love God, or we love our neighbour. We need to demonstrate love. Thankfully we are not all called to be like the policemen I mentioned above, but we can all make a difference to the lives of those we meet. Little acts of kindness go a long way, a smile as you pass by someone in the street; saying good morning to them might be the first words they have heard someone speak that day [or sadly maybe even longer than that].
Another way of putting our love in to action is supporting things like the Foodbank. Our local Foodbank is running low on some everyday items like tinned pasta, tinned fruit, jams or other spreads, a full list is available at their website. If you are reading this from another area then you can view the items most needed at your local foodbank using this link.
Remember, we are created in the image of God [Gen 1:27] and God is love [1John 4:8], therefore we are made not only in the image of love, but we are made to love, because; as we heard in our second reading today; that is what Jesus commanded us to do.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 2055: the Decalogue summed up in one command to love
CCC 1443-1445: reconciliation with the Church
CCC 2842-2845: “as we forgive those who trespass against us”
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- For all caught up in people trafficking or enslaved in any way.
- All those involved with education.
- Bishop Philip as he goes on his Sabbatical.
- The priests and parishes who are experiencing changes at this time.