Fr. Sanctus Mario
Inspiration and Bible Reflections

The Blessedness of Living In Love. 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year A

 

Sunday Breakfast With the Word 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year A

 

Ezekiel 33:7-9, Romans 13:8-10, Matthew 18:15-20

 

 The Blessedness of Living In Love

 

A man in a very well-known town has thirteen sons living together. Many people know the man to be loving and peacemaking. People use him as an example whenever they want to teach about love in a marriage. 

His major problem is that his thirteen sons were known for daily squabbles, fighting, and quarrelling. There is never a day when one cannot record a single quagmire in the family.

 

Towards the end of the man’s life, His sons surrounded his deathbed to show how much they care for their father. 

The father asked them to get a broomstick each, and they did. He advised them to break the stick one by one. They followed the instructions. They all broke the sticks each. 

The father then asked them to get the bunch of broomsticks, which they did.

He advised them to break the bunch, they tried their best to do that but could not. He told them to join hands and break just a bunch, they tried yet they couldn’t. 

The father then told them;

“If you want to truly show how much you care about me, be like a bunch of broomsticks. United you stand but divided you fall. No force whether internal or external can pull you down if you stay united. Do everything to stay in love”.

There is blessedness in living in love.

The aim of today’s readings aptly captures this. If we take it as our function to tell people the truth and correct them when they err as God instructed in the first reading. 

If we take it as our sole responsibility to forgive and make for peace as Jesus proposed in the gospel, and if we decide that what we owe everyone is nothing but love as Paul envisaged in the second reading, then there will be peace, love, and progress. 

We should do everything to stay in love. Living in love is already a heaven on earth. There is blessedness in living in love. It is the responsibility of all and not that of one person.

 

Appointed A Watch Man.

 

A watchman watches and guards a city or a particular environment. He watches over and protects people’s lives, property, and assets. The watchman protects the safety of the people. He warns of impending dangers that might befall the city.

 

In the first reading, the Lord sends Ezekiel to be the watchman of his people. He has the responsibility to protect the spiritual well-being of the Lord’s people. 

His function is to tell the people what the Lord has spoken and warn evildoers of impending danger so that they will repent. Failure to do this, means that Ezekiel will also share in their punishment. But if he does warn them, he is free. 

This indicates that one can share in the punishment of another if he refuses to do what he is supposed to do. This is the sin of omission. 

It also indicates that we are like guards towards one another. The gospel uses the word brother to indicate how close we are to each other despite our differences. We belong to one body in Christ.

2. As brothers, we are supposed to be our brother’s keeper. It is our responsibility to guide, protect, help, and correct each other. It is our responsibility to empower and encourage the ones undergoing depression and suffering. This is love in action. 

When we see our brother going the wrong way, we have the responsibility to bring him back to the true way. 

Before the ascension, Jesus instructs his disciples to be witnesses of the gospel (Acts 1:8). So. it is not an act of love when we see our loved ones going the wrong way, and we keep quiet. Whatever happens to Him might also affect us in one way or the other.

 

The Only Thing You Owe Everyone.

1. In the second reading, Paul re-emphasized that the sole thing we owe to everyone is nothing but love. 

To fully understand what Paul means, we have to know what it means to owe somebody. 

To owe means that one is under obligation to pay or repay someone. It is something you need to do. It is not conditional, but it is what we must do. 

As Christians, we are under obligation to live in love and not in hatred. For Paul, this is the fulfilment of all the laws. 

This is the only way, we can cause no harm to each other, and the measure to do this is to love one another as we take care of ourselves.

 

1.There is blessedness in living in love. If we truly live in love, we can never think of treating others badly or harbouring grudges. If we live in love, we can never think of kidnapping, killing, and intimidating anyone. 

Whoever lives in love is blessed. For Paul, the summary of all the laws is to love our neighbour. 

When we protect, save and help the other person, it shows we truly love him or her.

When we serve as a watchmen advising each other on the impending dangers of the type of life we are living, it becomes a sign of love.

Whoever loves you will never allow you to be damned. It is an act of love to show people the way.

 

If Your Brother Does Something Wrong

 

In the gospel, Jesus says, ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.

1. To understand the reason for this statement, we have to read from the beginning of this chapter (Matthew 18). 

In this chapter, Jesus is trying to let his disciples be aware of how God so much love us that it is not His will that any of the souls He created would be lost. 

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In the same way, He has sent Ezekiel like a watchman to the people of Israel to prevent them from wandering away, in the same way, it is our responsibility not to allow our brothers and sisters to live in enmity with us. 

So when anyone sins against you, it is our responsibility still to bring him back to the right way.

It is also our responsibility to go to our brother and speak sense to him. This is not a time to bear grudges or seek revenge. It is not a time to maim or decimate him.

This not a time to plan for your retaliation but a time to seek for a way to make peace.

2. While addressing his disciples, Jesus uses the Greek word “adelphoi” meaning brother. 

This entails that despite they are not related by blood, the disciples are one. By being a Christian or disciple of Jesus, we bind in koinonia with Him.

3. In Christ, there is no Greek nor gentile, no slave nor freeman, in Him, we are One ( Galatians 3:28). 

To be in Christ is to live like brothers. This is what is practically lacking today. Many Christian homes have been broken and many are left in total disintegration. To show that we are truly disciples of Jesus, we must begin to see the other person as our close relation, despite the race, colour, and family background.

4. Many exegetes have proposed that this is practically a proposal on how to deal with conflicts among the early Christians and for the very stubborn members. 

First of all, it is the responsibility of the one who was wronged to talk sense to his brother. We should not wait for the erring brother to come and plead for forgiveness. 

What Jesus implies is to try our best and win our brother back. The aim is not to convince him nor rebuke him but to win and regain his soul.

5. Secondly, the law requires the help of three or two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; ) which was like a judicial procedure in early Christianity (2 Corinthians 13:1-2; John 8:17, 1 Tim 5:19-20). 

This is to make sure that one has tried his part in resolving the conflict.

Then the final attempt is to report him to the assembly or the community of believers. To disobey the church then is to disobey Our Lord who is the head of the church. 

Jesus proposes this as the final attempt, one who still refuses at this point must be treated like a gentile or unbeliever. Even Paul advised Christians “to withdraw from every brother who walks in rebellion (2 Thessalonians 3:6). 

The question that now remains for us is “What attempts have we sincerely made to reconcile with those who wrong us? How have we repaid the other person for being against us? Why are we still bearing grudges if truly we call ourselves Christians?

6. In the last verse of this gospel, Jesus says “’In truth, I tell you 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. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

An agreement indicates that there is a bond already between those who gathered. 

“In the name of the Lord” also indicates that those who gathered are at peace with one another. 

While addressing Christians, Paul would say “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1;1-2, Galatian 1:3, Romans 1:7).

When Jesus appeared to where the disciples gathered after the resurrection, His first greeting was “Peace be with you”. 

This is an indication that the gathering of Christians should be a gathering of brothers united in one heart. Jesus dwells where there is peace and not where there are daily squabbles.

 

The prayer of a family or community gathered in one heart carries great anointing and power. 

Paul tells Timothy how he wishes that men in every place pray, lifting holy hands without anger and doubt. ( 1 Timothy 2;8). But today we gather to send Fire from heaven to destroy our enemies yet we have people we are treating horribly.

Many times, we gather with animosity, we gather praying that people who wrong us would die. Many gather with envy and jealousy, we gather to plan against each other. 

This is a call to encourage, correct, and guide one another, strongly unified, and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. ( 2 Corinthians 13:11). Living in love is the way to enjoy your blessings here on earth. 

Conclusion.

1. Living in love is not merely a feeling of emotion and sentiment towards one another. Love is more of an action to save, help, and guide the other person in the right way.

It means to be a watchman for the physical and spiritual well-being of the other person.

 Love involves serious commitment and action. We do not love the person when we have an inner selfish intention against him or her. To love is to save. 

Today, many people have wandered away from the true part. We pretend to love but we do not truly love. Some will come and laugh at your face with you, but inside their hearts are plans to kill and stop your progress. Let us learn to live in love. The blessedness of living in love is superabundant.

2.When brothers are living in love, they create a bond that no one can break. When they work together in love and unity, they become unstoppble even to challenges.

 Poverty can never penetrate the bond that exists among siblings. When they create a business and decide to make it a family business with all hands on deck, the business will always survive and progress.

 

When families live in love, they eat and do things together. You feel the joy to be their in their midst always. 

When husband and wife live together in harmony, marriage becomes the sweetest thing ever. 

The real blessedness is living in love. This is actually what Jesus is trying to teach us but, we have neglected this to continue to live in division.

3. To live in love is an obligation, a commandment, and something we must do. It is never conditional. We do not choose to help and not to help. What we have to do is to help. Also, We do not choose to protect and not to protect. What we have to do is to protect, guide, and encourage the other person.

We do not choose to help or protect only those who are related to us, those who sing our praises, and those who do what we want. In Christianity, we do not choose those who are our friends and those who are not. We choose anyone, even that person you called your enemy. We are one in Christ.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is a good example of who is your brother. He showed us the blessedness of living in love. Love in action. 

 

Therefore, Your brother is also that man or woman you have neglected. 

Our brothers and sisters are also those people we maim and destroy their names on their backs. Our brothers and sisters are those people we seek to destroy their reputations and plan a series of bad things against them. When we know what Christianity is all about, peace will reign everywhere.

3. Finally, it is undoubtedly true that many today are living in crisis. We have lost the blessedness of living in love. Many Christian homes today are left heartbroken, then The question is what effort have we made to bring peace into our homes? 

Are we agents of division or agents of unity? When we see our brothers going the wrong way, what efforts have we made to bring them back to faith? Do I rush to post them on social media?

 When we see others falling, or going down, and sick, what efforts have we made to encourage them and save them? Have we for one day prayed for others who are not related to us?

While booking mass intentions what we normally hear is people praying for their daughters, sons, themselves, or those related to them but pray that God fights their enemies. Can we also pray that God saves those who are not our friends? 

If many Christian families and communities truly understand what Christianity means, peace will reign, and progress will then be the order of the day.

 

May God have mercy on us and help us to avoid conflict. May the peace of God reign in our hearts and homes. Amen

 

 

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24 Comments
  1. Kaanta says

    Thank you Fr

  2. Caroline Andende says

    God have Mercy on me that I may avoid conflict. I pray for all those who do not like me that the Lord may restore and reconcile the relationships .Amen

    1. Faleye Dora says

      Amen🙏🙏 Lord help me love unconditionally

  3. Eririogu Fidelia says

    Amen.Thanks father

  4. Chioma Ugwu says

    Amen

  5. Okonkwo onyinye says

    AMEN

  6. Mailoushi James says

    Amen, remain blessed Fr., to the glory of God’s name, Amen. HAPPY SUNDAY

  7. Ndukwe Amanda says

    Amen Fr 🙏. Lord, help me to Love

  8. Yolanda Malebatsane says

    Amen 🙏

  9. GeraldineMary says

    Amen 🙏.
    Oh Lord, may your will be done not ours

  10. Chizoba Ekwueme says

    So help us God, Amen!

  11. Peter Anthony Dodoh says

    Amen 🙏🙏🙏

  12. Bibiana Uche Unachukwu and family says

    Amen and happy Sunday Fr Santus

  13. Agina Uchenna says

    Amen

  14. Dinmah Lucy Chinyere says

    Amen

  15. Oby Okpalaeke says

    Amen 🙏

  16. Eze Juliana Nkechi says

    Amen. Oh God increase my faith 🙏🙏

  17. Okeke Juliet Nneka says

    Amen 🙏.

  18. Mariajacinta Ivoke says

    Amen

  19. Nwatu Nneka P says

    AMen we pray

  20. Angela Ekere says

    Amen

  21. Amalu Gloria says

    Amen, may God gives us grace to understand what love ur neighbors as love yourself means in Christian ‘s lifetime.

  22. Udemezue Martina Mary says

    Amen

  23. Ugwu Josephine Nnenna. says

    Amen. God bless you.

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