Twenty-Third Ordinary

The Introduction 

If we are special agents of God, then we serve as agents of grace for one another. I am, in a real sense, at your service, as you are at mine. Together, we invite the kingdom of God into our midst. It’s not the sort of commission one can achieve alone. Of all that we do together to promote God’s reign, the hardest may be our gentle mutual connection. Unlike yourself, I’m sure, I dislike being told I am wrong. When I respond in anger and treat someone unfairly, I want to be justified, not reproved. But some of my friends love me enough to tell me when I’m way off base and need to examine my motives. Sometimes it’s enough to hear it from one person. Sometimes, I need to hear it from every direction before I’m ready to change. I value this honesty in my life, because I can’t always punch my own way out of ignorance. My friends know how dearly I want to hear yes in heaven, so they’re willing to say to me in the here and now.

Have you ever corrected someone you love when they’re in error? How do we respond to such correction?

Spend a week mindful that you’re God’s special agent of grace for others. Wear a cross or display a Bible phrase on your desk to act as your badge of commission. Let love be the goal of your words and actions.

The Scripture (Matthew 18: 15-16 Reproving another who sins)

If your sister or brother should commit some wrong against you, go and point out the error, but keep it between the two of you. If she or he listens to you, you have won a loved one back; if not, try again, but take one or two others with you, so that every case may stand on the word of two or three witnesses.

The Reflection

When a passenger on a Greyhound bus shouted out that there was a ‘bum in the bathroom,’ he possibly set a new record for misunderstandings. Other passengers relayed the message to the front, where the driver heard ‘bomb in the bathroom’. The bus was evacuated. The motorway southbound was closed, and the traffic backed up for 20kms. The police and bomb-sniffing dogs searched the bus before the incident was cleared up.

Communication sometimes gets garbled, including in the church. Are we willing to confront others charitably for the sake of principle?

The Commissioning

God of the faithful, God of the great assembly, you are amongst us as we do your work.

You are amongst us as we stand with the sick, the troubled, and the downhearted.
You are amongst us as we meet needs in the neighbourhood.
You are amongst us as we stand with the tested of our faith community.
You are amongst us as we comfort the dying and the bereaved.
You are amongst us when we challenge our despair and apathy.
You are with each one of us in the darkest moment, with each one of us when our joy cannot be retrained.

God of the faithful, God of the great assembly, you are with us for the long haul, and our thanks is profound.


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