Faith Questions

23rd Sunday of Year A

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“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”


Ezekial is regarded as one of the 3 great prophets (Behind Isaiah and Jeremiah). Ezekiel is both a priest and a prophet and is speaking during a time of Exile away from Home. Without temple practises, faithfulness to the laws of God kept Jewish identity and preserved unity. Ezekiel provides a powerful image of a ‘watchman’, standing, watching, ‘looking out’ for dangers that may be approaching your family. God’s family. Have you had the courage to ‘say anything and warn others’? What happens without ‘watchmen’? Are you challenged into action knowing that your salvation is at stake? What do you feel needs to be spoken of in your family? Community? Parish?


To love your neighbour as your own flesh is a striking challenge. Jewish interpretation wriggled around the challenge by regarding one’s ‘neighbour’ as their own Jewish citizens. This allowed Jews not to care for ‘outsiders’. Ponder the essential challenge of loving everyone as your own flesh. In what ways have you wriggled out of the challenge?


Matthew 18 is dedicated to life inside the Christian community. How is the community of Jesus supposed to respond to hurts and arguments that come from living together? A pattern is developed to avoid hurting and shaming those involved. Private conversation, then semi-privateconversation and only as a last resort a public church decision. Reconciliation is not ‘brooding’ in silence. Is there anyone you need to approach ‘face to face’?

Have you experienced the importance of a wise person to help ensure ‘every fact is established on the testimony of two or three’. Anger and resentment cripple christian hearts and disciples. Who are your ‘two or three’ guides to help your reconciliation journey?

Jesus makes a promise where two or more are in agreement in prayer it shall be granted to them. What prayer request would you like to share with friends. Who could you invite into your prayer / voice to God?


SOURCE: Living the Word resources are created by Fr Frank Bird a Marist priest and Mrs Bev McDonald, ACSD, distributed by Marist Laity Auckland, NZ 


1. At the time Matthew was writing his gospel local church communities would have numbered no more than fifty peo- ple. They would be known to one an- other. Matthew presents the instructions of Jesus for dealing with people whose behaviour disrupted and harmed the community. Note the steps suggested. Simple directions but many of us do otherwise. We avoid difficult confronta- tions. We talk about the faults of others to everyone but themselves. We go over the head of someone who displeases us and make complaints. In your experi- ence, which approach is life-giving for you and for others?

2. While Jesus is referring to a group situation, the advice can be applied also to personal difficulties and problems with others. What lessons has life taught you about constructive ways of dealing with conflict?

3. Jesus also recognises that there are limits to what we can do in resolving conflicts. We may reach out, but if the other person does not respond the mat- ter is out of our control. Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector suggests having nothing more to do with that person. But that is not the last word because Gentiles and tax collectors were precisely the kind of people to whom Jesus reached out. So while for the mo- ment we may have nothing more to do with a person who has hurt us, we leave the door open for the future.

4. As individuals and communities we have the power to bind and to loose, to exclude people from relationship, or to open up and include others in relation- ship. When have you found it important to acknowledge this power in your own life?

5. There is great assurance in the prom- ise of Jesus in v. 19, but he seems to promise more than we experience. What has been your experience of praying with others for something you wanted God to grant?

6. Jesus also promises to be with his fol- lowers when they gather together. What does that mean to you? How have you experienced the presence of Jesus in his followers gathered together?


SOURCE: Hearers of the Word


Does God still send watchmen or women or prophets to address injustice in the world today? Who are they? Are they successful and do they live long, happy lives?

Do we have a shared responsibility for others and the world? Are you a “watchperson” in some way? What strikes you as unjust as you watch? Can you think of new ways of bringing justice and divine love into the lives of people in your world, your city, your workplace?


Which ranks highest: how much you do? How smart or powerful you are? How much you love? According to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritain (Luke 10: 29-37), who is your neighbor?


Do you always remember that “if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them”?


SOURCE: Sunday Web Site at Saint Louis University


1. Do you remember when pastors told their parishioners that they could not attend the wedding of their son or daughter who “got married outside the Church?” That they should not welcome such to sleep overnight in their homes because they were “living in sin?” What good was accomplished by such policies? What harm came to family life and to the Church community as a result of these policies?

2. How are we to deal with those who flaunt God’s law and are scornful of the Church’s laws? Is there a remedy suggested by these Scriptures? How should your parish deal with those who have married outside the Church? Can they be excluded from parish organizations? What about the issue of scandal? Are we speaking out of both sides of the mouth if we practice charity and compassion toward those who are violating Church laws?

3. A few bishops in the USA and in Italy have denied Church burial to some notorious members of the Mafia when they died. What do you think of this policy? Are sanctions ever justified in the Church?


Make a resolution today to reach out to a person who has up to now been excluded from your circle of friends. Invite the members of your family or of your prayer group to do the same.


SOURCE: Portland Diocese


Have you ever tried to intervene in the life of another adult who was on a destructive path or was about to make a decision that you believed would have destructive consequences? If so, how was that experience for you?

When someone hurts us, we have three options.

  • Go to the offender, as today’s Gospel tells us.
  • Complain about the offender to someone else.
  • Keep the hurt inside and do nothing about it.

Which option are you most likely to follow? Why?

If you have grown in your ability to confront another, what has helped you grow in this way?

Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.


Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestions: If you need to confront someone about something, consider doing it. First pray and ask for the right words to say. Be loving yet direct in your approach and avoid words that are condemnatory. If someone you know is clearly on the wrong path, pray for the courage to confront that person.


SOURCE: Ascension Catholic Parish, Melbourne, FL

Word Sunday


23rd Sunday of Year A

The Call of the Watchman

There is strength in numbers. But for the Church, we are not talking about a body count, but the number of sincere, sorrowful hearts. If we hear God’s watchmen, like Ezekiel, and return, our presence will make a difference. For we show others the kind of God we follow and the type of people with whom we associate.

How does God call you to change? What areas of your life need attention? Who helps you hear that call?

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

23rd Sunday of Year A

Praise With A Catch

Have you ever been in prayer, only to be upset when you were disturbed? Why were you so upset?

Babies crying during worship. Rude whispers during Mass. How many times has our focus been interrupted at gathered prayer? Too many times? Personally, I want to make a comment to the offending party. I tell myself that I want them to focus on God, but, in my heart, I know that I want to control others so I can enjoy my moment of solitude. If my feelings of ecstatic prayer are disturbed by someone and I become angry, whose really at fault?

Praise can have the same selfish end as ecstatic prayer if the focus in on the worshiper, not the worshiped. Praise can lead to a sense of triumphalism, a sense that the worshiper has an exclusive relationship with God and the place of the worshiper is unique among humanity. The worshiper enjoys a privileged place with God and shares in the divine judgment power over others.

The next time you are in prayer, take a moment to realize that even the closest times to God are times temptation can rear its ugly head. Resist the temptation to ignore or correct others in the name of “quality time” with the Lord.

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

23rd Sunday of Year A

In Public

How are we Christians to act in public? Paul spend most of Romans 13 answering that question. In 13:1-7, Paul spoke of civic responsibilities: pay taxes and act as law-biding citizens. In that way, those in power will not have cause against the community.

But, how are Christians to act in areas not covered by civic laws? Here, Paul used the Torah (especially the Ten Commandments) as a backdrop to promote a popular rabbinic interpretation: Leviticus 19:18 fulfilled the Law. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul echoed the interpretation of Jesus on the greatest of the Commandments, the command that summed up and interpreted all others. (See Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28.) Like Jesus, Paul did not limit the command to fellow believers. In the context of Romans 13, he meant love was to be the primary motivation for all public action. In other words, Christians were to act equitably, so that no law would be violated; all people would be respected.

In today’s climate of confrontation and character assassination, let us keep the words of Paul in mind. How are Christians to act in public? With love, with love.

How have you acted in love this week? How have you violated that law of love? Present your reflections to God and ask him for the strength to love others, even when the task is difficult.

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

23rd Sunday of Year A

Reconciling with Other Christians

When others hurt you, do you confront them, reconcile with them, or just ignore them? Which way is the most effective? Which way is the most moral?

Disputes are probably the most uncomfortable of social situations. Whether private or public, disputes can define a person’s style: confrontation or avoidance, blunt honesty or face-saving lies, “fight for the right” or “peace at all cost.” Grace under this kind of fire can be impossible at times.

How do we address disputes in a way that encourages both mutual respect and justice? Jesus had a plan to answer such a question.

Think of a hurt in the past. How did you try to remedy the hurt? Did you do it in a way that respected you and the one who hurt you? Could you resolve present hurts in this way? Try to resolve one this week.

SOURCE: Word-Sunday Permission for use. All materials are the property of Larry Broding (Copyright 1999-2022). Viewers may copy any material for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

Word Sunday


Lectio Divina

  • What advice does Jesus give us to help people solve the problems of the community and reconcile the members among themselves?
  • What is the basic requirement that comes out of Jesus’ advice?
  • In Mt 16: 19, the power to forgive is given to Peter; in Jn 20: 23, this same power is given to the apostles. Here, the power to forgive is given to the community. How does our community use this power to forgive given to us by Jesus?
  • Jesus said: “Where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them”. What does this mean for us today?