Reflection: Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church



[1st Reading – Ez.33:7-9; Ps.94; 2nd Reading – Rom.13:8-10; Gospel – Mt.18:15-20]


In today’s gospel, there are three quite separate and different themes. Let us study each theme in turn.

In the third theme, Jesus is telling his disciples that when two or more people meet in his name and ask the Father in heaven for “anything at all”, it will be granted to them. This is because when they meet in Jesus’ name, it would be the same as if Jesus himself is asking “what they are asking” to the Father in heaven. This requires some faith!

In the second theme, Jesus is telling his disciples that for those who act in faith, what is done on earth has an effect in heaven. It is as if God himself is carrying out that particular action.  Hence, what was said to Peter (when he was made rock on which Christ built his Church) was not only directed at Peter but also directed to all who have accepted Jesus and his teaching in their life. Again, faith is a must.

The first theme (which should be the most common “human” experience of the three) is about the brother who has done something wrong and the approach the disciple should take to tackle the issue. So, if someone (a brother) does something wrong, Jesus says the following:

  1. Go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves – if he listens to you then you have won back your brother.

  2. If he does not listen, then take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge.

  3. If he refuses to listen, then report it to the community.

  4. And if he refuses to listen to the community, then treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

Jesus gives this brother (who has done wrong) plenty of opportunities to return back to what is right. It is only when he repeatedly “refuses” to listen and chooses to live like “a pagan and a tax collector” (i.e. a traitor), that Jesus seems to leave this brother free to “estrange himself from the community”. It is through his own choice that this man decides to become an outcast!

On the one hand we are often that same “brother who does something wrong” – the crux of the matter is not about having done something wrong (because we all do something wrong eventually!) but it is about one’s “refusal” to return to what is right. On the other hand we are also those who are to win him back and what they are to do in such circumstances. Being aware of Jesus’ way of doing things, how will we act in such a given situation?

“Lord, give us the humility to be able to recognise our weaknesses and at the same time to taste the strength of your presence in our life. Thank you Lord!”




Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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