10 September, Sunday – Debt of Mutual Love

10 September 2017

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Ezekiel 33:7-9

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.’

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Romans 13:8-10

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

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Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

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Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour

St Martin de Porres, a Dominican lay brother, was responsible for the infirmary in the Convent of the Holy Rosary in Peru. Once, during an epidemic, he continued to care for the sick despite orders from his superior not to do so for fear of spreading the disease to the rest of the community.

St Martin’s reply to the superior disciplining him is an example for all of us to follow:

“Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity”

The readings of today remind us of the need to demonstrate universal love to all those around us. St Paul in the second reading instructs the Romans to love our neighbour as ourselves. In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is given an important duty to instruct the sinful to return to God.

God is a merciful God who does not want us to be eternally separated from Him after our time on Earth. He gives us many opportunities to return to Him and be faithful to Him so that we can one day be together with Him in the heavenly kingdom. What matters then is an understanding of the rules and precepts of the Church. Sometimes we can view them in a legalistic manner but as St Martin demonstrates to us, we need to be charitable in all our actions and words.

Obedience to the letter of the law goes counter to what the Christian Faith is about – which is that of love. Love is the thread which binds all its children together and to whom the principles and basis are all built upon. As we continue with our daily lives, let us look at a situation in our workplace not from laws and principles but from a spirit of charity and how we can help the other party in kindness and patience.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us always discover what it means to practise a spirit of humility in our lives

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Missionaries of Charities who demonstrate God’s love to the poorest of the poor.

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