Luke 6:1-5
September 3, 2020
Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23 – Nativity of the BVM
September 5, 2020

Matthew 18:15-20

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 33:7-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20

A. Text/Context

  • What we have just heard in the gospel is the practice done by the early Church especially in dealing with members and specifically, the early Christians on how to deal with reconciliation
  • If a member in the Church errs, the first thing that you have to do is to tell the person in private of his transgression
  • If that person listens then it works and then the warring parties are reconciled
  • If the first step does not work, then the offended party gets one or two witnesses to play the role of a peacemaker
  • If the sinner refuses to listen, then, tell it to the assembly, if still, he refuses to listen even to the whole assembly then what follows is the excommunication
  • Expulsion from Church membership. And this is very painful in the Jewish culture when all networks of families and friends will no longer care for you treating you like an outcast
  • And this is somewhat similar today in our style in reconciling with our erring neighbors
  • Personal confrontation first, then, if nothing happens, then we go to the barangay
  • If nothing happens, we can now go to the supreme court and the judge will cast the verdict whoever is the wrongdoer and the and the penalty is meted out
  • That is why the cases is one against the people of the Philippines because that is already an assembly
  • The sinner will be one against all and very similar to the context of our gospel today

B. Human Situation

  • The gospel today gives us a lesson to apply in our very ordinary life as Christians on how to correct an erring brother or sister
  • It is very common to experience some conflicts in our day to day life
  • Some people even if they are offended they do not want to get into trouble. They forgive as they are more tolerant and charitable
  • Ideally, the smaller altercations if immediately brought into a dialogue would end into a settlement
  • But this becomes a problem if our erring neighbor is so self-righteous and justifies all his wrongdoings and so he believes that he has done nothing wrong and therefore would not ask any forgiveness
  • So the offended party would have his last recourse to the courts and most of the time even if the case is closed no reconciliation has occurred, only grudges, and vendetta
  • The hatred remains in their hearts even with the passage of time. Relationships are not restored, even with the court settlement anger remains and therefore there is no real healing in relationships
  • The reality is that it is really difficult to correct somebody who has gone wrong
  • Why? Because more often than not we are also silenced because of our own sinfulness
  • If for example, you know very well that your officemate is corrupt in his or her way of doing work in the office
  • Do you have the guts to tell that person to stop it? More often than not, no, because you also know very well that you are also a little dishonest in your business transactions or even in your marital relationship with your wife or husband
  • You can be rebuffed by telling you right smack before your face: You have no business with me, back off, I know all your dirty secrets
  • And with that we can be silenced. So what happens? We would not care anymore because one false move could trigger an avalanche of accusations jeopardizing our very own reputation that we so carefully protect. And the sin continues
  • So in this case we are placed in a very difficult situation. We become tolerant and apathetic of the wrongdoing of others because we ourselves are a little tainted with some ugly secrets of our own life
  • Do you think it is correct just to be silent of the wrongdoings of others?
  • No. Why? Because even in our sinfulness we do not lose the moral right to correct the others of their faults
  • Our prophetic role to teach others of what is right does not stop even with our own sinfulness
  • If we do not correct the others then who will do it when everyone fails before the eyes of God?
  • Otherwise, if we will no longer correct the others, the devil is the only winner and there will be no more stoppage or control
  • The same sin or even worse than that continues to happen over and over again because the sinner has never been corrected
  • Sin will continue to flourish unbridled and unabated because there is no more fear of backlash and the evil continues
  • I have encountered cases in my counseling people telling me that they’re uncomfortable to give advice especially if unsolicited. There is always the fear of reaction
  • Well, even with that kind of reasoning still, we are not freed from our obligations and duty to correct others of their faults
  • This is what the first reading talks about when God told Ezekiel of his duty to warn the people of Israel
  • What did the Lord say? If you tell the wicked “O wicked one, you shall surely die and yet you do not tell him to stop doing all his anomalies, I will hold you responsible for his death”
  • You see we have an obligation to do it because if we correct a brother or a sister at fault then, we love that brother or sister according to the 2nd reading

C. Challenge

  • My brothers and sisters, the challenge that the gospel brings us today is that we are reminded that we have a moral duty to correct the wrongdoings of others even if we are also at fault
  • We have an obligation to save the souls of others also from the wrath of eternal punishment
  • And we are also reminded that as we correct the we must also be humble enough to accept our own faults at the same time and therefore, we must do fraternal correction with utmost love and humility careful and prudent of what words we have to use
  • The virtue of humility shown by somebody who corrects could melt even the proudest of all hearts, even of the most hardened sinner
  • We should not worry much about what others will say about us
  • We continue to correct even with our own mistakes so that all the works of evil will never flourish in this world and we can make our lives better at least because we put some control of the wrong deeds of others
  • In that sense, we will not bear the burden of guilt for not doing anything or lifting a finger to all kinds of injustice going on around
  • We must always remember that a fraternal correction is an expression of love. If we love somebody then he must know the truth
  • Truth hurts, but once we are confounded with truth and we accept its painful consequence there is always the best prize that comes afterwards, and that is freedom
  • Freedom can only come from the truthfulness and honesty of our own selves

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