READINGS for 2008-09-07
“When I say to the wicked: ‘Wicked man, you shall die for sure,’ if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways, he will die because of his sin, but I will also call you to account for his blood.” – Ezekiel 33:8
I have close acquaintances and treasured friends in a religious community. My exposure to them allowed me to better appreciate the essence of their vocation, the beauty of their service, the depth of their sacrifices, and yes, their human frailties, too. Full of the idealism from a Catholic education and upbringing, I was mesmerized by their unwavering commitment to the Lord but was left dumbfounded by the reality that they too commit mistakes just like us “ordinary” people.
“Should I or should I not?” was my constant dilemma. Must I take courage and remind them of the right path? But who am I to do that? Must I ignore the inconsistencies between their homilies and their actions? Should I allow myself to be disoriented and walk away? Fraternal correction takes a lot of love, courage, a clean heart, humility and the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the right time, right words, and right way. I am thankful I did my part! Though I lost some dear friends along the way, I trust that in time they will see that I was a true comrade who did not take the easy path of watching them go astray.Marie Franco
Do you take courage to warn others of their wicked ways as much as you guard your own ways? Trust in Him as you do.
O Lord, my God, I am not without sin. Create in me a clean heart that I may act according to Your commandment and that others may do the same.
Prophets and leaders have a direct responsibility to proclaim the Word of God in its truth no matter the situation. There will be times when it is difficult to do this because of standing relationships or many other reasons. This does not and never will excuse a leader from his or her responsibility. The Reading today is quite clear that it is possible for the leader to be held responsible for the faults of the people, if the leader has failed in his duty to lead and proclaim the truth.
7 You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. 8 If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he [the wicked man] shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. 9 But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
P S A L M
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
R: (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
1 Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalm to him. (R) 6 Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. 7 For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. (R) Oh, that today you would hear his voice, 8 “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.” (R)
Paul emphasizes that it is love that is the central call upon our lives. We should avoid all other obligations except the obligation of mutual love. I like this idea as it is too easy to fall into a sense of false obligation to others when we allow sinful or worldly pressures to guide our relationships and lives. It is important for us to ensure that it is Gospel truth and principles that are the basis of our relationships, not worldly pressures and desires.
8 Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
G O S P E L
Each of us has a responsibility to work through our struggles with another person in the Christian community. Too often, I hear the excuse given that the relationship has come to an irreconcilable point. This is simply not true. It may be that the people have taken positions that are irreconcilable but this is a totally different thing. All issues can be reconciled if the parties are willing to humble themselves long enough to come together and work their problem through.
15 Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
think:Love is the central call upon our lives.
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Psalm 95-99
My weekly time with God
THANK YOU LIST
Things to be grateful for from the past week
Things to ask God for in the coming week
Most important word God told me this week
MUtUal rEsPOnsibility in thE COMMUnity
We all belong to the Church — for better or for worse. More than just belonging to the Church, we are the Church. (If only to illustrate this point, note that if you remove the two middle letters in the word church, then you will know who’s missing, got it?) If ever there’s one thing that can tarnish our relationships, it’s no other than sin. Sin is what alienates us from God and from one another. If you think the word sin is simply spelled s-i-n, it might be worth considering that it’s really more s-I-n. That’s a capital I in the middle: symbolizing nothing else but the ego. Any sin is always an act of selfishness, a misplaced and inflated assertion of the ego at the expense of God and neighbor.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us about fraternal correction. He gives us a pattern to follow, beginning with an immediate dialogue with the offender; followed by having recourse to two or three “witnesses,” and then also to the Church; and finally — should the offender still persist in ignoring the correction, ostracizing the sinner.
Funny how we tend to follow another pattern, opposite to Jesus’ method. We immediately isolate the sinner by our deadma attitudes. And then we “broadcast” it to the community, to our friends and other people. Only at the end — when, we don’t know anymore what to do — do we approach and speak to the person concerned.
Fraternal correction is indeed something that is not easy to practice. It is both hurtful and humiliating. In spite of the difficulty with Jesus’ “against-the-flow” teaching, we just have to do it, in all honesty and humility. It is, after all, the Christian way.
Somebody said that when we arrive at the gate of heaven, St. Peter will ask us, “Where are the others?” Our Faith isn’t a private matter. “One Christian is no Christian,” says another. Jesus says, “[W]here two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” We often sing in church, “Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t-isa” (We are all responsible for one another). Fr. Martin Macasaet
Have we followed Jesus’ way of fraternal correction, or the world’s way?
Teach me, Lord, to follow Your teachings even when they’re different from what I’m used to.
St. Regina, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
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