The readings for this Sunday, September 10, remind us of the importance of giving people the opportunity to make good decisions, and to make up for them when they don’t.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The readings for this Sunday, September 10, remind us of the importance of giving people the opportunity to make good decisions, and to make up for them when they don’t. We’re the custodians of our relationships, and if we don’t care for them properly, the responsibility falls on us. To live the law of love, means living in accountability.
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Just as God wants a good relationship with us, God wants us to have a good relationship with others. In the readings God tells us that there are a few things that belong to good relationships; being honest about what is right and giving people the chance to do it, making sure that we take the time to find out what’s right ourselves and then choosing to do it (or to avoid doing bad), and then giving people the chance to apologize when they’ve hurt us and forgiving them. This is called “being accountable.” In the first reading God tells Ezekiel that, even when it’s bad or difficult news that God needs shared, it’s Ezekiel’s job to share it. If he didn’t share it and the people continued to do bad things, the responsibility was on Ezekiel–because how can anyone be blamed for what they don’t know? But, once we do know, the responsibility belongs to us.
The second reading makes God’s law very simple–love doesn’t do things to hurt others. If we always do our best to not do hurtful things, then we can be pretty sure that we’re following God’s law.
Jesus maps out for us how to deal with conflict in the Gospel–because, let’s face it, nobody will always do the right thing. When someone hurts us, it’s our responsibility to tell them how it hurt us and to give them a chance to make it right. If that doesn’t work, we can get others that we trust to try and help the situation. If that still doesn’t work, then the person who did the hurting is responsible–but we still have to find a way to forgive them. When we are living God’s law of love, and share that love in our families an communities, God is there with us.
Are you good at telling people when your feelings have been hurt? Are you good at apologizing when you hurt other’s feelings?
In what areas of your life are you accountable to others? Why is that important? How does it help you to do what’s right, and to make it right when you do what’s wrong?
Do you ever avoid telling people when they’ve done something wrong in order to spare their feelings? What kind of unhealthy habits might this accidentally establish? How can offering people the opportunity to be accountable establish a healthy environment in your home, in your workplace, in your parish, in your community?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”