23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A Reflection homily
FRATERNAL CORRECTION AND THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SALVATION OF OTHERS.
- Summary of ideas of today’s Sunday readings
- Ask Our Lord to want what He wants: souls
- Fraternal correction: one of the means to bring souls closer to God.
1. Summary of ideas of today’s Sunday readings
Today’s 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A readings have a common idea which is the following: God expects us to be responsible not only for our salvation but also for that of others, as a demonstration of our authentic love for God manifested in our love for our neighbor.
- In the 1st reading from the Book of Ezechiel 33:7–9, we are reminded of this mission and responsibility of being good shepherds to one another. God said:
“I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.”
- In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the necessity of fraternal correction and of praying for others:
“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.
- This real concern for the spiritual well-being and salvation of the people around us is the ultimate manifestation of our love for our neighbor, as St. Paul teaches us in the 2nd reading (Romans 3:8-10):
“Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
- “May you hear today the voice of the Lord:” Do not harden your heart “(Ps. Resp.).
2. Ask Our Lord to want what He wants: souls
Loving God entails wanting what He wants and rejecting what He rejects. And what is the ultimate concern and desire of the Most Blessed Trinity? The salvation of souls.
We could ask ourselves if we have this real desire for salvation of many souls, and not only ours, and at the same time, ask Our Lord to help us overcome our indifference, laziness or negligence, with regards to our Christian calling and mission towards holiness and apostolate, which is the thermometer of our love for God.
“If you love the Lord, you will necessarily become aware of the blessed burden of souls that need to be brought to God.” St. Josemaria, The Forge, n. 63.
Do we have this real concern for the material and spiritual welfare of souls, and for their salvation?
3. Fraternal correction: one of the means to bring souls closer to God.
Apostolate is nothing but bringing souls closer to God. There are many ways and means to bring souls closer to God. This could be done through
- our daily prayer,
- good example and
- sincere concern and friendship.
A manifestation of the latter is the Christian practice of fraternal correction, which consists in:
- praying and offering a sacrifice for the person concerned,
- and telling him of a certain behavior which is incompatible with his Christian faith and life,
- always in a charitable and private (the usual way although there is a formal judicial and ecclesiastical form of a public correction) manner.
“When you have to make a fraternal correction, do it with great kindness — great charity! — in what you say and in the way you say it, for at that moment you are God’s instrument.”
St. Josemaria, The Forge, 147.
By doing so, we are helping our brethren, whoever they may be, but foremostly our closer relatives and friends, to return to path which leads them to God: the path to holiness, the path to salvation.
All of us have this mission and responsibility for the salvation of others by being at the same time good Shepherd and sheep: parents, siblings, friends, teachers…
“To practice fraternal correction – which is so deeply rooted in the Gospel – is a proof of supernatural trust and affection. Be thankful for it when you receive it, and don’t neglect to practice it with those you live with.”
St. Josemaria, The Forge, 566.
Through the intercession of Our Lady, let us ask God for an authentic love for Him and others, manifested by a real concern for the salvation of souls, helping those for have gone astray to return to Him through our prayers, sacrifices, friendship, manifested as well through the charitable Christian practice of fraternal correction, as Our Lord taught us.
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