Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Second Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 13:8-10
Gospel: According to St. Matthew 18:15-20
In 1972 three of the most influential periti or theological advisors from the Second Vatican Council decided to start a journal that strove to reach beyond the popular vison (the so called “Spirit of Vatican II”) that saw the Council as a break with Tradition. Rather, those three – Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, and Joseph Ratzinger – felt that the time for ressourcement (“a return to the sources”) had finally arrived, choosing the name Communio to express their “continuing dialogue with all believers, past and present.”
No triad of modern theologians is more deserving of having their work described by the words with which Jesus concludes this weekend’s Gospel story: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Besides the fact that all three were raised to the cardinalate – with Ratzinger eventually becoming Pope Benedict XVI – they all distinguished themselves as shining lights in the pre- as well as post-Vatican II Church.
In his statement announcing the founding of this new journal, Fr. von Balthasar opened with questions that are maybe more relevant today than they were in 1972: “What standpoint is our new review to adopt to scan the turmoil and confusion of battling ideologies and the clash of philosophies of life at the present day? What vantage point is there from which to flash its guiding signals?”
Over the years Communio has done its best to bring clarity to the theological and cultural issues of the day and has spread to include 14 different editions in a variety of languages across the globe. It has influenced the thought of many – myself included – and has brought to light the writings of contemporary thinkers as well as those brilliant minds that seemed destined to be tossed into the trash bin marked ‘pre-Vatican II.’ The Polish edition first came to print thanks to the work of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, now St. John Paul, and in Communio the writings of G.K. Chesterton, Christopher Dawson, Dorothy Day and others were revived for a new generation.
St. John Paul recalled fondly the ultimate purpose of Communio the journal, but in doing so he also recalled the ultimate purpose of the Communio – that Mystical Communion which is the Church. He noted that “the absolute requirement is that of love, love for Christ and for His Church, love for the other person, with whom it is necessary to be in solidarity and to enter into dialogue, although without compromise, for there exists no such thing as a two-fold truth.”
In that statement he crystallized all that the Gospel entails, including the relationship between love and truth. When taken together, this weekend’s readings flesh out that relationship by focusing on the often difficult, yet necessary task, of speaking the truth in love. From Ezekiel’s call by God to warn the wicked to turn from the path of death through St. Paul’s statement that love is the fulfillment of God’s law to the Call of Christ to be honest with those steeped in sin, each reading expands on the theme of caring for our sisters and brothers by telling them the difficult truths that will bring them back to that Mystical Communion.
In a world where Truth is often “my truth” and the proclamation of the Gospel is at times denounced as hate speech it is good to remember that our communio in the Mystical Body of Christ is backed up by the one-fold truth lovingly professed in Sacred Scripture as well as by the great minds of our time.
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