23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A – 5th / 6th September, 2020

The gospel readings for this week and next week come from a section of  Matthew that deals with ways the community might regulate its behaviour. Clearly there were some in the group who were behaving in ways that brought the community into disrepute and were contrary to the teaching of Jesus. The question was how the community should confront such issues of human sinfulness and help each other in the spirit of love that Jesus professed. Matthew recalls the words of Jesus to suggest a way forward in this dilemma. This text comes immediately after the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd expends all possible effort to find the lost one and bring it back to the fold. For Matthew, the main point of that parable is the joy that the master expresses when the lost one returns. That point is emphasised in this text when Matthew again suggests that all possible effort must be made to correct those in the community who err before taking the final step of exclusion from the group. Even then, all is not lost, and Matthew reminds his community that they should pray together and that their prayers will be heard.