Article | September 8, 2017
Lectionary Reflection: The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Ezekiel 33:7-11; Psalm 119:33-40; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
What a dramatic journey today’s readings take us on! From the outwardly harsh pronouncement in Ezekiel, “O Wicked One, you shall surely die,” to the familiar verses in the Gospel of Matthew, “For when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them,” to the full-throated exhortation by Paul, “We owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” At their core, each of these passages of scripture involve relationship: relationship to other individuals, relationship in community and relationship with God.
Ezekiel tells his people that it is their duty to call each other to repentance – a call to life, not death. By taking responsibility, one’s personal sinfulness is forgiven. While the language is sharp to our ears, the words point toward fulfillment and restoration.
The gospel reading speaks to a love based on the act of forgiveness – the central guiding principle of any Christian, especially those in community. Matthew’s is the only gospel where the term “church” is used and lays out a clear process in how to determine, confront and resolve grievances while establishing Christ in the center of it all. He is among us!
Paul’s epistle to the Romans makes a compelling case, in lush language, that the law, while vital and necessary, cannot be fulfilled without loving one another. In these anxious, confusing and turbulent times, the wisdom and hopeful theology of these words hold a key to deliverance and redemption – as individuals and a nation. Will we heed them?
Jeff Clark was a parishioner at the cathedral during his time in San Francisco and began his EfM studies here in 2007. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island.