23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
Matthew 18: 15-20
When we were baptised we were incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. Before our incorporation into the Church, we were like lifeless twigs which were grafted into the living Body of Christ that made it possible for us to participate in the divine life of God.
In the gospel this Sunday, we have a glimpse on the role of the Church in terms of:
1) Fraternal correction is the way towards the reconciliation of the members of the community. The Church is empowered to mediate in case of extreme difficulties beyond the power of the individual members.
2) Because the Church represents the corporeal and spiritual presence of Christ on earth, it is also empowered with authority and responsibility towards its members. This is expressed in the Sacraments we celebrate! The rituals of the Sacraments represent the action of the whole Body of Christ celebrating and conferring grace. So it is not mere human actions that we see but rather Christ as the Head acting through the ministers duly ordained who act on behalf of Christ. The priest/minister celebrating mass, giving absolution during confession, doing baptism, anointing the sick, etc. are all the actions of Christ. This is the Church at its best when it does not consider the disposition of the minister nor the participants to effect grace, hence the "binding force" coming from Christ the Head.
3) The Church is also a community of believers gathered to celebrate communion and intercession: "where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ", the whole Body is present! There is a bond that connects all the members just like all parts of the physical body are all connected as a living organism. There is an inherent spiritual power that binds all members to each other that is why we are all inter-connected spiritually. The prayers of the members effect the whole Body! This is the power of the intercession of the Church.
So where do we find ourselves in this complex reality of the Church? The ekklesia in the gospel today becomes alive when the community is 1) forgiven and forgiving 2) nourished through the care of our faithful and dedicated shepherds and 3) strengthened by each other’s prayer and empowered as God’s People.
We need to celebrate our faith with the Christian community because our relationship with God has an ecclesial dimension. This is where fellowship becomes imperative. We have to gather together as a Church because it is an expression of our communion with each other which is patterned after the intra-communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we do this, the Church is truly a living organism making herself truly relevant in the present time.