“Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel” God appointing Ezekiel to be his prophet spokesman..”to tell it as it is” to tell the truth, & like a sentry, to protect the truth..& stop side-stepping the Big Issue.. & what is your Big Issue ? in life family or in faith this weekend? what do you take exception to in our Catholicism, you in your family, me in my Community?..or is it easier less hassle less costly, to keep quiet & just go with the flow?..
“I have appointed you as sentry..” watchman/caretaker of the truth.. ; Lord have mercy “..warn them in my name..” gently lovingly call them home.. ; Christ have mercy “..he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible..” ..you saw it & you chose not to say not a word.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
a short gospel worthy of a short homily..it should come as no surprise that the care & wisdom of the Rule of St Benedict is rooted in, crafted from, the gospels, & todays gospel is classic example, as Jesus offers wise advice in caring for the villain reprobate the black sheep in your family & in my Community; a framework for change & reform; Ch 27 & 28 of RSB a template for you & I to practice in family community & parish life as sentries/custodians of one another “caretakers”; wherever we live, & whoever we live with, it is within the “field hospital” as Pope Francis calls it. Covid ward in Nightingale hospital or this spiritual ICU of a Church treating some, waiting for many others still anxious about facing their Big Issue, afraid of spiritual track & trace, fearful of what might emerge in conscience, what needs to emerge & be addressed. Matthew’s Jesus is understandably Jewish in way he pronounces on dealing with miscreant; the crime & culpability increases as felon/villain fails to co-operate; fails to, or is unable to? imprisoned into misbehaviour, addicted/dependent on it, & in need of specialist help; & with time reflection & prayer we begin to see the perpetrator differently; a wounded sick brother or sister in need of healing, rather than a renegade in need of the third degree & censure..someone we know very well; we’ve all been there & worn the t shirt with one word on it, of self honesty humility & a plea for help “guilty” feeling like a pagan or a tax collector..”have it out with him alone”..the bad apple in your family or in my community, or is it God?..”why did God deal me this hand?” ask him..”have it out with him alone”.. my fellow monk, sinner to sinner, not a pure me to a guilty him..seeking God’s grace to melt hearts & effect conversion in both directions..”if he listens to you, you have won back your brother”..too often cry of despair from teenage girl or despairing wife is “no one listens, no one cares” when did you last stop look & listen?..listen to St Benedict on the miscreant “every possible care & concern should be shown for them; the superior [Dad/Mum in family life] to use every curative skill as a wise doctor; send in senpectae, mature & wise seniors, who may bring consolation to the one in danger of being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow & is in need of reaffirmation of love..notice it isn’t the appearance of the accused before a court, but deep pastoral concern for the sick brother or sister in hope of a change of heart..when was last time you told your bad apple how much you loved them?..& they could tell you meant it..how long ago?..in Ireland 60yrs ago in large families, eldest two of eight children learned to be the senpectae..see young Declan sailing too close to wind again, & to save an almighty leathering Monica & Patrick would have the quiet word..saving WW3..Abbot [Mum/Dad] to show greatest possible concern to avoid losing one of sheep entrusted to his care; following example of Good Shepherd who left 99 on mountain & went off to look for the stray..in his sulk in his room, or in his flat in Manchester..”so great his compassion, he actually lifted it onto his sacred shoulder & so carried it home”..is this close to home or too close to home?..you sentry/caretaker.. & for bad apple you perhaps gave up on years ago, distant & distanced, Benedict offers the realistic last resort..”if there is no reform follow the practice of an experienced doctor; after applying dressings & ointment of encouragement & the medicine of divine scripture & if even then the superior sees that no such efforts are of any avail, yet another remedy must be brought in, which is still more powerful” I wonder if you can guess what is the second to last last resort? “the personal prayer of the superior & all the community that the Lord, who can do all things, may himself bring healing to the delinquent.” & in our gospel remember? “if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven” only obstacle to that coming true is our refusal to believe it..& the last resort? wise tragic inevitable “if even such prayer does not bring healing, the superior must turn to the knife of amputation “if the unfaithful one wishes to go, let him go, lest one diseased sheep corrupt the whole flock” the bad apple freely departs..loved forgiven yet unable to live & foster life in community..for the time being?..never forgotten ever hopeful of a prodigal son/daughter moment, when they will walk back down road & into the”better or for worse..in sickness & in health..to love & cherish” for a lifetime.. “we must be saved together. We must reach God together. We must present ourselves to him together. We must not expect to find God without the help of others. We must all come back together into our father’s house. We must also think a little of others; we must work a little for others. What would he say to us if we arrived separately?” ..the Body of Christ as an amputee is a contradiction in terms.. ..as he asks young Declan & the nine of us “where is Monica? “..& if you have really listened these last 8mins you will recognise the significance, the reality & the familiarity of Our Lord’s question..its answer is worth a smile behind your face mask.. [23rdSunYrA Mt 18;15-20]