A REFLECTION ON THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: THE UNFATHOMABLE LOVE OF GOD.
DATE: 7TH SEPTEMBER, 2008.
The love of God is so high that we can get over it; it is so low that we cannot get under it; it is so wide that we cannot get around it. Oh what a wonderful and fascinating love.
My dear people of God that the love of God is beyond human understanding cannot be over-emphasized. In the first reading, God instructs the prophet Ezekiel to proclaim the forgiving power of God to a perverse generation; a generation that has lost the sense of sin. The challenge for Ezekiel like Jeremiah in last week’s first reading was enormous because whether the people listen or not, they must proclaim the word of God. For Ezekiel, the challenge was even greater because when he refuses to tell the sinner to repent and that sinner dies in his sin, he will be answerable to God but when that sinner refuses to listen to him, he will die in his own sin and judgment will await him. The experience of Ezekiel is true for us too. Each and every one of us is supposed to be his brother’s or sister’s keeper. We are supposed to be a kind of guide for one another; to show love no matter the situation. This is because it is the desire of God that each and every one of us comes to the knowledge of the truth. God through the prophet is emphasizing the community spirit that must characterize our church. The resurrection experience cannot be lived in isolation; it is a community experience and so must be lived as such. That is the more reason why St. Paul in the second reading will say that the only debt we cannot afford to owe is the debt of love. In other words, there is no credit for love. Our love for one another must be genuine and must translate into concrete action by the way we admonish one another especially those we claim to be our enemies.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus assures us of the abundance of his forgiving power and admonishes us to do same. Our forgiving attitude must be unlimited. Jesus says that “if your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him alone. If he listens to you, you have won him back…” Jesus invites those who think they have been wronged to take the first step towards reconciliation. This is what most of us will not take. How can I stoop so low and seek for reconciliation since it is he who has wrong me is what most of us will say. But let us always remember that the person you consider to be your enemy is in prison and needs to be released. That is why Jesus says that when you have taken this bold step and he responds in the affirmative, you have won him over. After all, that is exactly what Jesus came to do for us. He came to pay the debt he did not owe. He invites us to go the extra mile until our so called enemy is won over. Dear friends in Christ, forgiveness is necessary for the growth of our community. In fact, it is the very essence of our community. That is why I could agree more with Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical, Evangeli Nuntiandi that the Church exists to evangelize.
POINTS TO NOTE
· Let us consider our enemies as prisoners who need releasing.
· Whenever we are at loggerheads with a member of the community, let us not take the issue to pagans to solve for us.
· Treating our enemies like we will treat tax collectors and sinners means we pray for them or love them.
· Prayer must not be selfish.
· God is present whenever we gather in his name no matter how small our number. Families must pray together because Jesus is present.
· The relationship that exists among us is not only present but has an eternal dimension. Thus we must get our relationship right.