The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 10, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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I should like to begin by quoting Michelangelo, the great Renaissance artist: “In every block of marble, I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to other eyes as mine see it.”

We are like blocks of marble in which God can already see the statue that we should become. The marble is our present life and the statue is the holiness to which God calls us.  Between the block of marble that we are and the statue that we should become, we need to be sculpted, we need to be shaped into the form that God wants for us. There are so many parts of our lives that need to be hewn.

What are the hammer and chisel that Our Lord uses to bring up the hidden statue?  In today’s Gospel, we can find the answer to the question. Jesus talks about brotherly correction and prayer in common.  The chisel is the brotherly correction and the hammer is the prayer in common. In both cases, we can see that the action of God reaches us through the Church, the community.

“If your brother does something wrong,” (Mt 8:26), Jesus says that we need to correct him. A person could be corrected by one brother, three brothers or the whole community.

Such correction is not only having someone who corrects me when I do something wrong. It is an attitude of conversion. It is being receptive to change. Brotherly correction is also related to listening to the Word of God, to let myself be judged by what the Word has to say to me. We can find the Word of God in the Bible and in the teachings of the Church.

Confession is the sacrament related to brotherly correction. When we receive absolution, effectively our lives are corrected, a new piece of marble is chiseled and a new piece of the statue becomes visible.  The hammer is prayer in common. “For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.” It is indeed in prayer that we find the strength that changes our lives. It is in prayer that we can encounter the presence that gives us form and glory.

The Eucharist is the sacrament related to prayer in common. The Eucharist is the most important moment of prayer that we can have. In the celebration of faith and in communion with Jesus, we actually find the source of life and grace. We find the love that changes our lives.

Every prayer is in common. Prayer is never an isolated act that we perform. Even when we are praying alone, we are united with our brothers and sisters in what is called the communion of saints.

Brotherly correction and prayer in common are two means by which God gives our lives the idealized form he wants each one of us to assume.

Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for all of us, that we may obtain all the grace of a yielding heart for God to sculpt.  Amen.

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