Reconciling with God in Our Parish Community
Gospel Mass Readings Reflection for 03/03/23
The readings for today’s mass for the Friday of the First Week of Lent all deal with reconciling ourselves with our neighbors and most importantly turning back toward God. We began with the first reading from the book of the Prophet Ezekiel. The Lord through His prophet gives all of us hope no matter the situation in which we find ourselves that God’s mercy can overcome our greatest sins. The Lord reminds us:
“If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.”
In our Gospel for today, our Lord reminds us that it’s not simply about turning ourselves toward God. Being saved is not a matter of simply the individual’s relationship with God, but it is communal, one that reminds us that the second greatest commandment is like the first, “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Jesus teaches:
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother.”
In many ways, the sign of peace during mass, is more than just a halftime during mass, it is rather a sign of reconciling ourselves with our neighbor before the altar. It is a sign of the importance of the communal act of the liturgy of the mass and its sacrificial character. If our relationship with our Eucharistic Lord becomes closed off from the communio then we will find ourselves when we eat “the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner.” There has been much ink written on the context of what St. Paul meant in his First Letter to the Corinthians, but let us keep in mind that the occasion for Paul’s letter was largely due to factionalism in the Corinthian Church which encompasses the content of the entirety of the letter.
We need each other during our earthly pilgrimage toward the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not a journey our Lord intends for us to embark on our own. Our opponent, our adversary, the devil is prowling around like a lion, waiting for us to be isolated; singled out and divided from each other to find us liable and cursed to the fiery Gehenna.
 ESV-CE, 1 Co 11:27.
"Being saved is not a matter of simply the individual's relationship with God, but it is communal...that reminds us of the second greatest commandment". Obviously I get this in terms of the one I sinned against, but when I examine my conscience , I do it alone. When I go to confession I do it alone. I never thought very deeply about the communal aspect. Thank you, Phillip.
Jesus does say that the second is like the first, but He does say that loving God is the first and great commandment in Matthew 22:38. This is because sanctifying grace flows into us through the first. Then we are equipped for doing the second.