Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 10, 2017
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 127

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 18:15-20

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.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel challenges us to love one another in light of “fraternal correction,” a concept lost in our culture. St. Francis de Sales speaks of it in light of true friendship:

It often happens that when we have high regard for friends, we can absorb their imperfections. Certainly we must love our friends in spite of their faults. Yet, true friendship requires us to share the true good, not evil. Thus, just as gold diggers leave the sand on the bank and take the gold they find, so also those who share in a true friendship ought to remove the sand of its imperfections, and not let this sand get into their souls.

True friendship can live only on true virtue. It comes from God, leads to God and its bond endures eternally in God. It is a weak friendship that passively watches our friends take the wrong path: to let them perish rather than to courageously help them with the lance of correction. Genuine, living friendships cannot continue in the midst of vice. If it is only a passing vice, a true friendship will put it to flight by correction.

When we correct with compassion rather than anger, repentance will sink in far deeper and penetrate more effectively. Nothing so quickly calms down an angry elephant as the sight of a little lamb. When reason brings along rage, it is feared rather than loved. But reason without anger peaceably chastises, corrects, and warns, even though it might be severe and exact. A father’s gentle, loving rebuke has far greater power to correct a child than rage and passion.

Blessed are they who speak only to give “fraternal correction” in a spirit of sacred love and profound humility! More blessed are those who are ready to receive it with a gentle, peaceful and tranquil heart! In being humble, faithful and courageous, they have already made great progress, and will arrive at the highest degree of Christian holiness.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially, Introduction to the Devout Life)