23rd. Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel of today presents us with an issue of practical importance: whether and how we ought to engage in fraternal correction. We have all heard of Julius Cesar, he was a great general and a great ruler, but he trusted the wrong people. One day he was going to the Senate and his wife Cornelia warned him not to go. She was very worried, but he went; and on that day n March 15 he died tragically. This marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head, we cannot see everything. We all need somebody to look out for us, to give us advice, to warn us. At the same time we are called to look out for others. I can make a great mistake in my family life, in my work, with my friends, even in my religion and I may not realise it. I may be hurting somebody, making life difficult for somebody I love, and I don’t realise it. But if somebody tells me that I may be wrong, then I can correct it. The problem is, it is not very easy to accept a correction. It hurts our pride, and our vanity. We would prefer to say: mind your own business, I know what I am doing, when I need your opinion I will ask for it. How often do we say or think like this? So many people in my own life have offered me advice and I am very grateful to them, even though I did not like it at the time. Society tells us today that who are you to criticize, who are you to tell me what to do? We all engage in criticism of others it’s like a pastime for all of us: We comment on how people look, who they befriend, what political party they follow, what car they drive, everything is up for criticism and we all do this. The lower we make others, the higher we appear ourselves. I would suggest something we could do: at the end of the day, make an examination of conscience and ask yourself: how many times today have I criticized other people? I think you will be surprised, at least I was. In the gospel today Jesus tells us that we can do somebody a great favour, by helping them to find the right way by helping them to correct their mistakes. But he says we must do it in a very kind way. We must do it as an act of kindness, only because we want to help; not when we are angry, not when we are upset. We must find the right moment to say it, the right words, and even the right tone of voice. We must do it like a very good friend would do it. We must do it the way Jesus would do it.