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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Sept. 4, 2011

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

September 4, Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A Readings:

1) Ezekiel 33:7-9

Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9

2) Romans 13:8-10

Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

To start a new life in America with me in 1994, my German-born wife left a lot behind, the most important being her family and friends. The distance has made it a struggle to stay in touch.

One of her childhood friends tracked her down a few years ago, and after not seeing each other for almost 20 years, they met up when Monika returned to Germany for a visit. They picked up where they had left off, and when the visit was over they agreed to stay in touch.

After Monika came home, she began to exchange emails with her friend, but her friend pulled more of the weight in the friendship. Monika often would take weeks to respond to an email while her friend always replied immediately, only to again wait weeks for a reply.

After a few months of this, the friend sent a rather stern email, calling Monika on the carpet for being a lazy friend.

This was hard for Monika to hear and even harder for the friend to say. But even Monika admitted that she was not being the kind of friend she wanted to be. From that time forward, Monika put more effort into the friendship and now, although living on different continents, they are very close friends.

Calling out friends when you feel that they have wronged you, themselves or another is not an easy thing to do, but it is exactly what this Sunday's readings demand. Through Ezekiel, God tells us that we must try to dissuade the wicked from their ways, and if we fail, we are responsible for them.

In the Gospel, Jesus says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault." St. Paul gives us added direction when he says, "Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another."

All the readings reveal to us our responsibility for one another. We all need people in our lives who will hold us accountable, and we, in turn, need to hold others accountable.

We do not walk this planet alone; we do not sin alone; and we do not heal alone. Fulfilling these Scriptures' challenge takes courage. But if the words are motivated and spoken in love, although we might hurt feelings, we will help the person grow.


Have you ever been called to account by someone or called out someone else? What was the experience like? Why do you think God made us our brothers' and sisters' keeper?


"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault" (Matthew 18:15).


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