(Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)
Today’s Gospel is troubling. It seems far removed from “love your enemies” (the Sermon on the Mount), and “forgive one another from your heart” (next week’s Gospel!)—both of which are found in Matthew.
If we read the Gospel more closely, however, we find that the difference is not so great. If the guilty party admits the wrong he has done, reconciliation can be achieved. The process Jesus describes sees exclusion only as a last resort. Even then, reconciliation is the goal.
Ezekiel was not told to condemn the sinner, but to warn him of the consequences of his sinful ways. If the prophet held back, he was guilty of not doing his part to save the sinner’s life.
I often point out the prophetic nature of the message of Our Lady of La Salette. Combine that with her natural maternal instinct, and you have an intensity of concern that is reflected beautifully in the words of the Vatican II document, Lumen gentium: “Taken up to heaven, [the Virgin Mary], by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.”
In this same vein, when we call Our Lady of La Salette ‘Reconciler of Sinners,’ this in no way diminishes the Reconciliation accomplished by Jesus alone, but reflects her participation in his mission.
Citing the commandments that concern our relationship with our neighbor, St. Paul insists on the primacy of love.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady does the same thing, but she alludes to the commandments that govern our relationship with God. Can we love our neighbor perfectly without truly loving God?