Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, 10 September, 2023: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20
If I’m looking for a calculus to cut off someone, I won’t find it in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ instruction makes every effort to ensure respect for the person who sins against me. And his final point is very challenging in the light of his own ministry: treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Jesus called the tax collector Matthew as his disciple before Matthew showed a change-of-heart. Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and other sinners. He brought them the Good News by his presence; then the tax collectors joined the crowds when Jesus taught or told a parable.
As to Gentiles, a Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his slave, though he felt unworthy to bring Jesus into his house, was commended for his faith. The Syro-Phoenician woman who pleaded with Jesus to cure her daughter, despite his initial resistance, was rewarded with his help.
To treat someone as a Gentile or a tax collector is not dismissive but to bring the Good News in experiential form. This is humbling: I may not be the person capable of communicating that to the offending brother or sister. I may have to ask someone else to do that; I may have to turn the situation over to God. But is dismissing the offender ever an option?