WITH ST. MARY'S
THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Our love is enhanced when we are cognizant of the whole Church.
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Everything in our faith centers on one single thing: love. The Eucharist and the Mass, the Source and Summit of the Christian life, is the manifestation of God’s love for us. Catholic Social Teaching is an expression of the overflowing of that love from God to our neighbors. Even our doctrine is the outline of how to live a life of total and complete love for God and all of His creation. When St. Paul outlined the theological virtues, he listed faith, hope, and love, but made sure to teach us that the greatest of these is love. But what does love actually look like? This is perhaps the one thing society gets wrong most; without a relationship with God, love can never be fully comprehended. It is twisted into a concept of mere tolerance, of pursuing pleasure, of selfish emotions. In reality, love is sacrifice taken on with joy, and we are called to be witnesses of this True Love to the world as Christians.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
In this Sunday’s Gospel, love is outlined by Christ as it actually is. He orders his disciples to pursue love for their fellow disciples through the Church, and we are called to do the same. Love is something that ought to be fought for with a greater end in mind; in our capacity as Christians, we are called to love everyone so that we might strengthen the Church, and this is exactly what the disciples are told by Christ. If someone is damaging the Church in some way, whether they are aware of it or not, they must be confronted with this truth. This is an act of love. If they don’t listen, Christ orders that more witnesses be brought to them so that they realize that this is affecting a community, not just an individual. If they continue not to listen, the issue must be brought to the Church and perhaps even expelled from the community. This is not just punishment; this is an act of love for the community (because it is ridding the community of an issue that harms the whole) and an act of love for the one who is expelled (we must face reality when we err, or else we will remain in a state of sin or error). We must remember this Gospel reading when dealing with issues in the Church today. It is dangerous for the state of individual souls and the survival of the Church when we do not call out sin, when we do not allow fraternal correction, or when we promote error or heresy (knowingly or unknowingly).
The point of this Gospel reading, though, is not a step-by-step on how to confront those damaging the Church. It is rather a testament to the power of community. Every single one of us are sinners, capable of pursuing selfish gains in spite of the needs of the Church. When we come together, though, as the mystical body of Christ in the form of the Church, we are cognizant of the needs of our neighbor, which allows us to remain cognizant of the needs of the whole body. In community, selfishness is eliminated. When factions arise and the community begins to break apart, we should return to those things that unite us as expressions of love: the Mass, the Eucharist, our Social Teachings, and our Doctrines. These expressions of love allow us to know when we are right or wrong. They protect us from schism and selfishness; all we need to do is set aside our own desires and follow something greater than us. To sacrifice your personal worldview for the sake of the One True Church is love itself - a sacrifice taken on with joy for the sake of each other.