Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary time

correct-with-love-fraternal-correction

Today we hear so much about fake news and alternative facts. The most effective way to combat this is to correct with truth and love.

This is what the Readings for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary time seem to be addressing. The theme of ‘fraternal correction’ is found in both the Gospel and First Reading. In the Gospel Jesus states, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.”

In the First Reading, Ezekiel states, “But if you warn the wicked person to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, they shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”

The Second Reading is able to complement these two Readings because it speaks about love. In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul states, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Our motivation to correct should always be love. This is not always easy to do because, as the Responsorial Psalm states, we can suffer from a hardened heart: “O that today you would listen to the voice of the Lord. Do not harden your heart.” The way to address a hardened heart is not to use a hammer because hitting with a blunt instrument can cause the object to shatter.

The best way to deal with something rigid is to soften it. In the spiritual life, this is done with love. As preachers and teachers we should never be afraid to correct by proclaiming the truth; however, this must always be done with great love.