In today’s gospel reading (07/09/2014), Jesus speaks to his disciples about the ability to correct others out of love and compassion, without the need for criticism or judgment. Jesus tells his disciples about the procedures to help others that have fallen into sin and are doing wrong. We need to be able to differentiate between right and wrong.
First, Jesus teaches us to help the person through intervention on a individual level, and if this does not work, then it goes up to the community level and then to the church. Even if all the steps fail, we should still be patient and not give up. Praying can also help bring about fraternal correction as Jesus promises, ” For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:15-20).
Many times due to our human nature, we tend to condemn people in their mistakes and rarely want to help them to change out of love and compassion by giving them a second chance. Society still cannot accept people such as offenders or people who want a second chance to turn over a new leaf. People need to be given a second chance to find their purpose in society. We must learn to persuade the person to change and to know that change does not occur overnight; it takes time and effort. Sometimes, the person refuses to listen and as a community of Christians we have to be able to pray for the person to be reconciled. We do not need to tell the whole church but those we trust such as priests and close relations to continue to pray for the person.
Temptation and sin can be difficult to overcome but it can be done through determination. The tax collectors and pagans were treated by society as outcasts and most did not want to associate with them. However, Jesus never treated the tax collectors and pagans as outcasts; many a time he went to eat with them in their homes. Jesus believes that no one should be denied the chance to experience healing and restoration.
Fraternal correction is not only confined to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we seek repentance and forgiveness. It can start when we help others such as our family members and friends who are struggling in one way or another through illness, addictions or pressures in life. Praying as a family is also important as ” The family that prays together, stays together.” Jesus is present in our midst when we pray together as a family and we can ask both his parents, Mary and Joseph to intercede for us by praying for our intentions.
Parents should also educate children on the importance of praying and observing the mass at a young age as the church is not a playground but a holy place of worship. A parent’s relationship with a child must also be strong so that they can teach the child the right things in life and show them love and concern too. The ability to correct and teach others without criticism is a gift that can be nurtured and this helps to restore broken relationships.
Life is indeed very short and unpredictable; it is pointless holding on to resentment and grievance which will only destroy us and create a vicious cycle of unhappiness for us and the people around us. We must focus on the example of Jesus whose love and compassion can purify and redeem us from sin and temptation. The question is “Are we able to love without judging and criticizing but to love out of forgiveness and compassion?”
God Bless! and continue to pray for the unity in families and our community that we should not give up and condemn others but try to help them experience healing and restoration through prayer and advice.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong