Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)
September 10, 2017
Jesus enlightens the hearts of those who trust in God’s ways.
Our hearts are enlightened when we are reconciled with others in the love of God.
“If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray for, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” (Mt 18:19)
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches us the loving process of reconciliation when we are at odds with someone, when someone has erred against us, when someone has sinned or committed a mistake. As Christians, we are reminded of our duty in the proper way and attitude in correcting an erring brother or sister. This correction must be motivated by love to win someone back and be reconciled, and never by arrogance and self-righteousness.
Jesus outlines a three-step approach to correct a person who has committed a wrongdoing. Note that Jesus calls the offender “brother” to emphasize that even an offender is still a brother and should be treated not by condemnation, but with love. Correction begins privately (between the offended and offending parties) to ensure that the fault is not carelessly publicized to preserve the dignity of the erring brother. The offending brother is approached, not to accuse or blame him but, to dispose him to the transforming action of the Holy Spirit who alone can win over sin and bring about repentance.
If the brother refuses to listen and be convinced of the destructive character of his action, two or three witnesses are summoned (Deut 19:5) to ensure that only factual statements are said and no false accusations are made. However, Jesus speaks of correction and not mere prosecution. The witnesses are called to help convince the brother to reform, not to give overwhelming accusations. Lastly, if private correction fails, correction must now be more insistent and collective, which could already involve the church or community. Even at this point, exhortation and not judgement prevails. After an erring brother ignores even the church or community, then the consequences of his actions will be upon him and he is left to the mercy of God.
Fraternal correction is “the admonishing of one’s neighbor by a private individual with the purpose of reforming him or, if possible, preventing his sinful indulgence.” Unless the errant action is committed publicly, community members should endeavor to settle the matter privately so as not to cause scandal to the community that could be a cause for loss of faith. Members should practice charity for a person who sinned. Charity here does not mean that one turns a blind eye to the offence or misconduct committed, or criticize the person once his back is turned. Christian charity means humbly but honestly pointing out to the offending person what wrong he has done, for his own good. This is giving him a fair chance to see his mistake, apologize and rectify his sinful action.
Indeed, God withholds judgement and gives us chances upon chances to rectify our wayward ways. His mercy is so vast and condemnation is far from His mind. St. Paul tells the Romans: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…Love does no evil to the neighbor,” (Rom 13: 8, 10). Our responsibility as Christians is to be loving to our brothers and sisters, even when they commit an offense against us. Knowing that Jesus will defend us when our honor and name are maligned or when there is false accusation, we will continue to forgive, lay those hurts at His cross, and bless those who persecute us. “For as we continue to pray and forgive seventy times seventy, we can bear one another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal 6:2).
As we are reconciled with those who have hurt us, our hearts become enlightened and we begin to live a life of reconciliation and prayer. Then, Jesus will certainly be in midst of our relationship with others because he has promised: “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray for, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father,” (Mt 18:19).
Heavenly Father, help me to see only the good things in every person that I meet. If I see a brother who has committed an offense, give me the courage to show him his fault without accusing him, without judging him. But through my love for You, allow me to humbly enlighten him and win him back to you, that he may realize what I seek is only for his good. Amen.
1. How do you go about correcting a person under your charge when he has committed a wrongdoing?
2. In community, how do we apply the correct way of handling “fraternal correction” in the manner that Jesus Christ taught us?
This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
September 10, 2017 (Sun) – Ez 33:7-9/Ps 95:1-9/Rom 13:7-10/Mt 18:15-20
September 11, 2017(Mon) – Col 1:24-2:3/Ps 62:6-7, 9/Lk 6:6-11
September 12, 2017(Tues) – Col 2:6-15/Ps 145:1, 2, 8-11/Lk 6:12-19
September 13, 2017(Wed) – Col 3:1-11/Ps 145:2, 3, 10-13/Lk 6:20-26
September 14, 2017 (Thur) – Nm 21:4-9/Ps 78:1, 2, 34-38/Phil 2:6-11/Jn 3:13-17
September 15, 2017 (Fri) – Heb 5:7-9/Ps 31:2-6, 15, 16, 20/Jn 19:25-27
September 16, 2017(Sat) – 1Tm 1:15-17/Ps 113:1-7/Lk 6:43-49
“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”