23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

OPTION 1: I read this very interesting story from the homily book of Fr. Simplicio Apalisok, Calling on the Crossroads Year A, that in Solomon Islands in the south pacific region, some village people practice a unique way of logging, a primitive one. If a tree is too huge an d unyielding to be brought down with an ax, the natives knock it over by shouting at it. Tribesmen climbed on the tree and scream like mad at the top of their voices. This goes on for thirty days. The tree dies and falls down. The belief is that yelling kills the spirit of the tree. According to them, it always works.

Fr. Apalisok commented that these people were primitive in their way of conducting a logging. They don’t have the edge of modern technology. We can cut a large tree in five minutes. Talking about efficiency of destruction of our forests, our generation does not anymore employ the yelling of trees like those tribesmen. We are better, don’t you think? Wait! We don’t scream at trees but we yell at people. We are worst.

Fr. Apalisok continued that you yell on your husband. Shout on your wives. Holler on your children. Curse on others. Bark like dogs. It is getting to be a normal habit for many. No choice of words or places. You do it at home, office, streets and over the phone. You can act like lighted dynamite waiting to explode in a fit of anger and madness.

Jesus in today’s gospel talks about fraternal correction and how we correct others. correcting is different from condemning. It is done in view of the good of the other. It is not a destructive criticism but a constructive one.

The truth is none of us wants to hurt anybody. That is why we do not like to correct another person. But there are times when we see someone we love getting into wrong and forming bad habits and we want to guide them back to the right track. Yes we know it hurts but it does good to the person. Besides it is our duty and responsibility too, I should say, if we follow the words of God in the first reading from the Book of Ezequiel: “…If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their inequity but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their inequity but you will have saved your life,” (33:7-9). We are our brothers’ keepers because God appoints us to be watchmen for one another. A brother or a sister who sin has a right to our guidance; we owe it to them. If we can help others by pointing out their error and fail to do it, then we will be held responsible before God. It is his or her responsibility before God if he or she ignores our warning. We are not expected to force anyone to be good; goodness must be freely chosen.

What kind of faults we must correct? The big ones could be like: drinking, stealing, immorality. Sometimes we are bound to point out faults of which the other person may not be aware like speeding when driving, like doing a careless job when working and like complaining and using bad language and backbiting and many more.

But how do we go about correcting a person? The best answer comes from Jesus in today’s gospel. First, if we feel that someone has wronged us, we should go to him personally and speak to the offender in private. This is actually the hardest step and therefore the most often neglected but it is a genuine act of love. We should not bring the case to Radio Bombo and announce the fault of the person and Radio Bombo airs it. Or go to our neighbor and tell them of the other’s fault. If we have a difference with someone, there is only one way to settle it and that is, face to face. It’s good if we do it in a prayerful atmosphere.

I read this very touching story of a mother who was terribly angry. Her undergraduate daughter eloped with her classmate. She wanted to confront them with a rage and fury of an angry mother. But she hesitated and asked herself: “What does God telling me?” what she did was to pray and read the Bible for thirty days. She imagined Jesus in front of her, complaining to Him her frustrations. Then she remembered her daughter as a child: how she nursed and loved her dearly. Would she abandon her now?

She who wanted to correct tried to correct herself first. She who wanted to renew underwent the initial step of being renewed. She was ready. She went to them. She prayed with them. Read the Bible with them. They began to dialogue. They ended up reaching each other’s hearts. Her daughter and son-in-law both graduated and are now gainfully employed. As for her, she’s proud of her two grand children.

Second, if a private and personal meeting fails of its purpose, we should take some persons as witnesses, like the family, respected persons and others, with us but still in private. The taking of witnesses is not meant to be a way of proving to a man that he has committed an offence. It is meant to help the process of reconciliation. To talk matters over with some respected people, this can create a new atmosphere in which there is at least a chance that we should see ourselves “as others see us.” Also, this should be done in a private atmosphere.

Third, if that still fails, we must take our personal troubles to the Church. Why? It is because troubles are never settled by going to law or court or by Christ-less argument. It is in an atmosphere of prayer, love and fellowship that personal relationships maybe righted.

Fraternal correction and dialogue are really necessary in our Christian lives because of our weak human nature. Let us take time to care for others if we love them. It is because the main goal of fraternal correction is to “win your brother over.” It is not meant to prove to him how wrong he is or to prove that we are right. It is not to humiliate the offender but to help him. In the gospel of St. Luke (15:10) says that if we practice love and our brother listens and repents, we share in the joy of heaven, where the angels rejoice over each repentant sinner.

See Today’s Readings: Cycle A

Back to: Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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