23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020-A
My brothers and sisters in the Lord!
This week we welcome our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. John Ginty, who just ordained a priest this past June and is also a classmate of Fr. Anthony. Father is from Glen Rock and the son of Margaret from Midland Park and the late Tom Ginty who passed away in 2008. He is the oldest of three having a younger brother and sister. His home parish is Old Lady of Mount Carmel in Ridgewood. Fr. John had multiple career paths before discerning his vocation. He was a nuclear engineer for the US Navy submarine force for five years as well as an auditor in NYC and a stock market analyst. Father also has multiple degrees including finance, accounting, business as well as a degree in law. He entered the Seminary in 2013, and a meaningful assignment further convinced Fr. John that he was on the right path and so continued discerning the call to priesthood. He found peace and happiness with his relatively late entry and formation for the priestly vocation. We are happy to have Fr. John as part of our parish family. I know you will welcome him in our midst. Please pray for him as well as his class who are beginning in their ministry. Please continue to also pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
There is a huge growth industry in mediation services. Perhaps we see it most often in the field of marriage, when couples facing difficulties in their relationships go to a third party, a counsellor or person trained in reconciliation skills in order to help dealing with the underlying issues which are causing problems in their marriage. But couples are not the only people who avail themselves to such services. Sometimes it’s even parents and children who need help or professional assistance is needed to resolve the disputes between employers and employees or their unions; sometimes even an outside agency is brought in to settle disagreements between neighbors. We all understand the need for third party intervention and assistance in our lives, the need for help from someone who is objective, someone who is compassionate and skilled in dealing with conflict.
Today’s Gospel comes from Chapter 18 in St. Matthew’s Gospel, and it is sometimes called the “Community Rule Book”. It gives instructions on how people within the family of the Church should relate to one another. In our passage today, we hear Jesus’ instructions on how to deal with the issue informally, just between two witnesses. This brings the issue into the public arena, but is also a way of ensuring clarity. In other words and, to insure that this isn’t just a case of two sides being unreasonable or even blinded by anger or resentment, it is about caring enough to point out a painful truth to your neighbor, your “brother”. It is not by chance that this passage follows from the teaching about the shepherd who goes out to find the lost sheep. Finally you bring this matter to whole Church or to the wider community. If people persist in wrong doing in the face of clear rejection of their action by the whole community, then they are in fact separating themselves from the Church, cutting themselves off. And this needs to be acknowledged. Not to punish but to bring those who are in the wrong back to the path of right. An attitude of this nature might seem harsh, but the purpose is to be reconciled and not having vengeance. The Prophet Ezekiel has the same mentality when he stresses the importance of speaking the truth. He says it’s better to speak the truth even though it might be painful, than to keep the peace and thereby allow someone to die in their sin.
We often hear phrases such as “tough love” and “speak the truth in love”. Though these may have become some- what clichéd, they do reflect an important truth, that being a Christian is not the same as being nice. Peace is not the highest value that there is. Injustice and wrongdoing have to be actively named and opposed, not simply ignored or washed away. That is why justice and peace are always linked together, because without justice there can be no real peace, only appeasement and compromise, which are simple ways of following evil to triumph.
AS Christians we have a duty to be people of love. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor. As St. Paul tells us, It is the answer to every one of the commandments. It may sound simple and clear cut, but it isn’t. Love cuts both ways. It is relatively easy to love when that means being generous, caring and compassionate. But the deeper love is one which cares enough to confront, challenge and if need be, even oppose. Genuine love of neighbor refuses to collude wrong doing through silence or idleness. Such loves requires real courage, because it might be misunderstood and can easily lead to hostility as well as rejection. But as a Church we are called to bind and to loosen the bonds of oppression which prevent people from living the fullness of life of God’s kingdom. Whether it means opposing individuals or governments, a society’s values or sinful economic structures, the challenge of the gospel means Christians need to love enough to speak uncomfortable truths, in humility , but with courage. And when we do that, we know that Christ promises to be there with us.
As many of you already know, our annual Parish Festival in September honor Maria SS Addolorata has been canceled due to the Pandemic. However, we will be having a Triduum in honor of our Lady of Sorrows beginning on Thursday, September 24th and Friday, September 25th at 7:00PM on Saturday, September 26th, at the 5:30PM Mass and ending with the 12noon Mass on Sunday, September 27th, 2020. We invite you to join us in honoring our Lady.