23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel Matthew deals with an issue that can touch all of us.  How are members of the Church to deal with those who sin against us?  Matthew recounts a three-step process by which the matter is to be resolved.  First, the offended party is to address the offender privately.  If that fails to produce reconciliation, two or three witnesses are to be introduced into the process.  If no progress is made, then the case should be brought before the entire community.

The graduated process was probably the method that Matthew’s community used to resolve disputes.  The purpose of the process was not to punish but to restore the offender to the community: “If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.”

Matthew tells us that if the offender refuses to cooperate even with the decision of the church, he or she should “be to you as a gentile or tax collector.”

Matthew’s community is made up of Jewish—Christians.  This statement amounts to a decree of excommunication. In other words, there comes a time when the procedure has run its course and failure must be admitted.

The decree of excommunication stands in some tension with Jesus’ demand for limitless forgiveness within the Church.  Although forgiveness is always demanded, an offender is not free to do whatever he or she desires. There are consequences for bad decisions.

Praying with others is so important to Jesus that he attached two promises to it.  First, if we join together to ask for anything whatever, it will be give to us.  Second, if we gather together in His name, He will be present to us.

Gods answer to our prayer may not remove all our troubles, but it will renew our strength to deal with them.  He is always present to us when we pray.  What we cannot do alone, we can do together in terms of correction and forgiveness, healing and service, working together and building a community.

God Bless,

Msgr. Powell


Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Peter’s confession of faith leads to Jesus’ first prediction of His coming death, followed by His invitation to follow in His footsteps, carrying His cross. This is the core of the gospel. Because Jesus is the Son of God, His death and Resurrection gives us life. Because we are saved through Him, we must cling to Him and imitate Him, even if it means carrying a cross and laying down our lives.

Matthews Gospel emphasizes the role of Peter more than any other Gospel. He is the spokesperson for the other disciples and gets personally involved during challenging encounters. Peter is praised as the recipient of divine revelation when he proclaims Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”: He is named by Jesus as the foundation of the Church, and Jesus gives him special authority within His Church. The keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose refer to a special teaching authority given to Peter for the sake of the Church.

However, the faith of Peter is not yet complete.

He did not recognize that the Messiah and Son of God was to suffer and give up His life. He had not yet learned that disciples must not only recognize who Jesus is, but must also take up the cross and lay down their own lives.

When Jesus says: “Get behind me”, He could be telling Peter and us to follow in His footsteps.

Follow me to Calvary because that is the path to resurrection and eternal life. That is why Jesus came as Messiah to bring us eternal life.

God Bless.

Monsignor Powell


21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” His disciples gave the latest poll readout of that day.  However, Jesus is interested in a more profound question concerning His identity.  He asks: “Who do you say that I am?”

It is only by divine revelation and inspiration that Peter could declare the true identity of Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

To confirm the accuracy of Peter’s Confession, Jesus made several significant and symbolic statements.

  1. He declared Peter blest for responding to the Revelation he was given.
  2. He conferred a new name on Peter—He hence forth be called “Rock”.
  3. He promised to make Peter the foundation on which he would build his Church.
  4. He gave Peter the authority and power to heal and forgive.

This is one of those classic eternal questions all of us have to confront: “and you, who do you say that I am?”  It is a personal question that demands a personal response from each of us. It is a critical question that calls for us to make a commitment one way or the other.   It is a decisive question whose answer will determine our entire destiny.

If Jesus is truly God’s Son, we confess that and live accordingly, or else we deny it and do our own thing.  We can not escape the challenge given us.  Either we declare His divine identity in human form and follow Him, or we denounce Him as a phony and find someone else.  Is He a nice guy who said a lot of nice things, or is He your Lord and Savior, who gives you peace.  Is He just another myth, or is he your Master and Lord who gives meaning to your life. Who do you say Jesus is?

God Bless

Msgr. Powell