Reflections 10th September 2017

A Reflection for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt: 18:15-20 ( ) 

Recently, I was invited to dinner in the house of a couple whose marriage I had witnessed. They welcomed me and re-introduced me to their two children: an eight-year old daughter and a five-year old son. After a little while the mother asked the children to go to the other room. The girl went immediately; her brother was clearly reluctant and his mom gently said to him: “Come on now, please go”.   After another refusal and request, clearly resistant, he eventually went, mumbling “It’s not fair…I don’t want to play with her.” After about 10 minutes there were raised voices and the girl, in tears, came running in, shouting that her brother had knocked over the jigsaw that she had nearly finished. The boy was called and appeared very sullenly as his mother told him off, in no uncertain terms, telling him that she would deal with him later and that he was to pick up all the pieces and go to bed.

Two things it seems that we humans find difficult to receive are orders and correction. I know that I still angrily resent some harsh telling-offs that I got – despite the fact that they were, in themselves, totally deserved!

Both today’s First Reading and Gospel focus on how correction might be given. The bottom- line is that it must be out of love for, and to help, the other. The Reading is strong – we may even have a real obligation to do so, and, if we don’t, and the other sins or gets into trouble, then we are part-responsible.

The Gospel gives us concrete steps regarding how to go about it. Before correcting anyone else we have to ask ourselves: “Is this for the other’s good?” It can easily be more about getting revenge on the other! Also, while we are at it, we might just check with ourselves: “Is what I am correcting the other for, something I myself am guilty of?” We might be surprised to find how often it is!

Brian McLaughlin C.S.Sp. – Ordained in 1967, Fr. Brian is a former Provincial of the Spiritans in Ireland who missioned for many years in Brazil and the Philippines. He has also served in England and the USA.