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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

23rd Sunday of the Year – A                                                                                                                             

 

 Dear friends in Christ,

 

             Mercy and forgiveness are the main characteristics of God and are among the most important teachings of Jesus: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate… Do not judge… Do not condemn… Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.”

However, in today’s Gospel Jesus seems to tell us otherwise, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault.” On the one hand he says, “Judge not,” and on the other he tells us to correct our brother when he does wrong. How can we correct if we can’t judge? Certainly, we cannot and must not judge people’s consciences, but we can and must judge people’s deeds. We can’t know whether a person realizes he is doing wrong, but we can often see when he does something wrong. 

There are times in which everyone has to give brotherly correction. Christians, through incorporation in Christ, are God’s watchmen. We are watching out for each other, not to hate but to love, not to condemn but to support, not to tear down but to lift up. In the Gospel, Jesus forgives, he also corrects.

Giving and receiving brotherly correction is a duty. In the first reading from Ezekiel, God tells the prophet, “if you do not speak to the wicked person about their wickedness, I will hold you responsible for the consequences of his or her wrongdoing.” But it must be done wisely and lovingly, because love must be the motivation behind any form of fraternal correction. St. Paul says, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”  

Fraternal correction is a blessing. St. James explains, “Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”   

Fr. Joe