Reflections - September 10, 2017

“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…..”.  Mt. 18:15
 
This phrase spoken by Christ is part of what we call the fraternal correction.  It is a lesson from the primitive communities that were formed around the Disciples of Christ.  Different groups with different cultures formed these communities.  Some
came from the pagan world, so, of course, tensions and tangles were not alien to the communities’ reality, which can also be repeated in the present time.
 
In the light of the Gospel we can see that in most community and social conflicts the presence of the Lord and His compassion were absent.  We hear in the Second Reading:  “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another…….Love does no evil to the neighbor”.  Rom. 13:8.
 
We know that in human relations there are always frictions and misunderstandings.  In this Gospel the Lord invites us to have a positive relationship and to not seek the destruction or devalue of our neighbor by lies or slander.  We must practice fraternal charity with those that wrong us, with those that we do not like, or that make our “lives a yogurt” within our family, working, and community environment.  We must remember that these brothers and sisters are our neighbors  “What do we know about what is in the heart and mind of those who offend us” – they are also children of God and are “signs of how you are living the maturity of your faith”.
 
Pope Francis tells us:  “I exhort you to care for each other by loving one another….it is a demanding path that requires “patience and mercy”  even in unchristian environments.  For this reason God sent forth His Son so that He would carry our sins.  Let us be messengers and witnesses of the infinite goodness of the Father”.
 
I leave you here with this prayer to use when you receive the Eucharist:  Lord, help me to be merciful with my neighbor as you have been with me.  Give me the spiritual strength to always forgive that brother or sister who offends me and to those who I have offended through thought, word and deed.  Help me learn, as the Pope says:  “to ask for pardon from my neighbor” and repentant go to Confession”.