This Word of God is a Divine cure because we have been called out of the world. This is what the word Ecclesia, which is translated as church, means: called out of. We have been called out of the world but we haven’t been removed from the world. Furthermore we still bear the common impact of the original sin which affected people’s relationship with God and with each other. That’s why today’s Word of God comes to us as a cure for what we bring to the Church coming from the world.
This Word of God is also a Divine light so that a new lifestyle, a godly one, could flourish in us and among us like biological life flourishes under the light of the Sun.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! In today’s Gospel the word Ecclesia (Church) occurs twice. There is also one more occurrence. We heard it a couple of weeks ago when Jesus said to Peter: ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.’ What did Jesus find in Peter that he made the Apostle such promise? It was the faith of the Apostle who confessed: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ The faith Peter had in Jesus was indicated by Jesus as the foundation of the Church.
In the Gospel we received two weeks ago Jesus showed the foundation of the Church. This Sunday Our Blessed Lord shows us the Body of the Church arising from that foundation. ‘Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’ What these people have in common is their faith in Jesus ‘Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Therefore the Christians, who have been called out of the world, are not left in some vacuum. They are gathered in the community which Jesus called Ecclesia (Church). This new society arising from the foundation, which is the faith in Jesus ‘Christ, the Son of the living God,’ transforms women and men into sisters and brothers. All of us have been reconciled to one God. All of us have been washed in the same blood of the same Lord Jesus. The love of the Father and the blood of the Son made us one family of God.
St Cyprian of Carthage, a bishop and martyr, who lived in the third century, wrote: ‘You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.’ The Church allows us, who maybe strangers to each other, to be reborn into brothers and sisters who call the Heavenly Father: Our Father, who call his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: Our Brother. However these great mysteries we have been made partakers don’t hypnotize us. There is still a long process for us to undertake so that with profound conviction we could look at our fellow believers as our brothers and sisters. Jesus gives us a fascinating insight today when he says: ‘If your brother sins against you.’ The Lord doesn’t promise us that our fellow believers will be angels but he promises to give us grace so that in the sinful fellow believer we could still see our brother and sister whom we love out of sin, whom we love into holiness.
In the nineteenth century France was blessed having St John Vianney, a great pastor of the parish of Ars and a great confessor. Lots of people travelled to the little village of Ars to make their confession there because the holy priest could read people’s hearts. One day a bishop arrived. After making his confession before John Vianney he was walking away sobbing. Asked what happened he answered: ‘He told me to love my priests.’ St John became a brother to the bishop. He discovered that the bishop was lacking love for his priests but the way he said it to the bishop moved the man deeply. He didn’t feel condemned or judged but loved, encouraged and supported to embrace a change in his life.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! I pray that when you go to confessions you can have this belief that there in the confessional room sits a brother of yours, a brother in faith. That your confession is witnessed by a brother who loves you out of sin and who loves you into holiness. That when you open your soul to him he will offer you a truthful and caring insight because he cares about your eternal life.