Skip to content

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Ezekiel 33:7-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20
September 7, 2014


Ezekiel serves the Lord as a prophet.  Part of his duties as a prophet is to be a “watchman”.  A watchman stands on lookout to watch for trouble and, when there is trouble, alert the people.

As a prophet, Ezekiel is to stand on watch for the people who might sin and stray from God.  It is his role to tell the people when they are going astray and offer them the Lord’s words on how they are called to live their lives.

This is not a trivial task given to Ezekiel for it comes with a great responsibility.  Ezekiel must tell the people of their sins and waywardness.  To fail to do so is to sin.  If he tells the people and they continue to sin, it is their choice but Ezekiel is innocent.

In baptism, we are all anointed priest, prophet, and king.  Most people do not make being a prophet their career but sharing our faith must be part of how we are.  As we see people who do not follow the Lord’s ways, we too have a responsibility to speak out for what we believe in.  It is their choice what to do.

Yes, we need to alert people to their sins but we must be thoughtful about how we do it.  We must pray for the Lord’s guidance on how best to say what needs to be said.

Today Jesus gives us some guidance on how to tell someone their faults.  He gives us a process to follow that begins with going to any person who has wronged us one on one to “tell them their fault”.

This should not, must not, begin with us going to the person and screaming, Do you know what you did?  Do you know how much it hurt me?

It’s not easy to go to someone who has wronged us.  It is not just a process.  It’s about what is in the heart.  What is the motive of our words?  Do we go seeking to be the one who is right?  Do we go seeking revenge?

While we might be owed an apology, I think our motive should not be rooted in getting an apology.  Our motives are best when we go to the person seeking to help them be the best person they can be.  Maybe they don’t realize what they did.  Maybe they don’t understand why it is wrong.

Jesus then tells us that if the person doesn’t listen, we are to go to them with witnesses.  Getting witnesses should not be about proving that we are right.  The witnesses should be to help the person realize the truth and help them become a better person.

The same is going to the church for help.  Lastly, Jesus tells them if the person still refuses to listen, then treat them like a Gentile.  Even this should be seen not as punishment or avoidance.  It should be seen as a way to motivate the person to change so they can again be part of our community.

We are people of faith.  Part of our faith is to be people of compassion.  It isn’t easy.  We can struggle with it all our lives but we make it our way of life.  Most of us are baptized as little children and our parents make our baptismal promises for us but as we learn we must make our faith our own.  A key step in this is the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This Fall, we will have eight youth make this sacrament.  Today they begin their final preparation and we offer them our prayers and support.

Leave a Reply