Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 10, 2017)

The Scriptures today focus on our responsibility as members of the community of the Church.

We heard St. Paul tell us that the commandments can be summed up in one: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As Paul sees it: “Anyone who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Paul sees love as the debt that binds us together as a community.

The Scriptures have presented two aspects of love for our consideration. The first Paul considers as obvious: “Love never does any wrong to the neighbor.” Christian love is not a feeling; it’s choosing a manner of living with others that does good to them. That’s the reason why Francis de Sales encourages us to be conscious of God’s presence and grace often each day to and direct our intention as we begin each new activity of our day.

This practice is meant to assist us in choosing to do good to one another - to love -and so avoid doing wrong to one another as we go about daily living in community. Our recent General Chapters have encouraged us to spend some time prayerfully considering the early Jerusalem community described in the Acts of the Apostles and using it as a model for our daily living as Oblates. Each of these practices is meant to assist us in choosing the loving things to say and do as we go about our day.

Today’s Gospel presents a second aspect of love - the mutual responsibility we have for each other as members of the community. We are responsible for supporting one another in our practice of love. There may be times when that responsibility will call us to correct a member who strays or is having a bad influence on the larger group. Our concern in this situation should be marked by our love and by the care we take to admonish such a person in as private a way as possible. Mutual love and support must be our only reason for speaking up.

In this way we are building up the community, not destroying it.

May the words of today’s Scriptures strengthen us in our resolve to grow in a loving attitude toward all we say and do each day. In this way, Jesus is better able to live once again in our love for one another.