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Difficult Confrontation

Homily for Monday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Whenever I hear someone say that they don’t like confrontation, I am tempted to say, “Who does?” Saying that one doesn’t like confrontation seems to carry with it an implication that there are some who do!  I’ve never come across such an individual. Confronting difficult situations is neither easy nor pleasant.

Having said that, it also needs to be stated that sometimes confrontation is necessary. To simply ignore a situation is not at all acceptable.

Both of our readings today feature confrontation. St. Paul confronts the Corinthian community because it has failed to do something about an immoral situation. Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees for callously using a man with a withered hand to lay a snare for him. Both situations are justly called malicious and evil.

St. Paul tells the Corinthians to throw out the old yeast and to mix up a new batch of dough. Yeast is often used in the Scriptures as a symbol of corruption. While we usually don’t think of it in these terms, science tells us that yeast gains its properties from fermentation which creates pockets of air that make the dough rise. Consequently, bread or any leavened baked goods is created by a kind of corruption. Before the Passover each year, the Jews are supposed to throw away all leavened bread so that the bread eaten at Passover and afterwards is totally new.

St. Paul asks the community to remember that they have turned away from their former way of life to live in the truth and sincerity of the Gospel. Jesus reminds the scribes and Pharisees that the command to avoid work on the Sabbath was never meant to be used as an excuse for not love one’s neighbor.

In other words, when confronting any evil or difficult situation, we are to remember that we do so to express our love for God and our love for our neighbor. Simply allowing an immoral situation to continue is the exact opposite of expressing our love for God and neighbor.

God has loved us by forgiving us our sins. As we celebrate the sacrament by which we were reconciled to God, let us remember our call to live in sincerity and truth.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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