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Reflection by Ann Rock
Today's Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20
This passage starts with some good advice about communication. If you have a problem with someone, communicate directly with them. While the author uses the heavy word “sin” I think we can apply this advice to any situation no matter how big or small the offense is. We also learn a good lesson in that we don’t have to air our business to others unless a simple resolution is not reached.
It seems to me we live in a time where we judge others and broadcast it publicly before addressing our issues privately and directly with those involved. Gossip in the age of social media is a terrible temptation. It’s also, in a way, easier to publicly air our grievances than to humble ourselves to others directly and let them know how they’ve hurt us.
In light of this reading, I also think it’s worth considering exactly when we are expected to communicate to others about their behavior. Admonishing the sinner is one of the corporal works of mercy, but there has to be some discernment in acting on this charge. It seems to me if the sin is being committed against oneself then we do, indeed, have the obligation to discuss it with the offender. I see problems when we get involved in public correction of someone who we’ve judged to be sinning but we are not necessarily the victim of their behavior. We never know the state of someone’s soul and should be very gentle, thoughtful and prayerful before confronting someone. It may be most appropriate to discuss it with your priest or spiritual director before taking such kinds of admonition on.
The ultimate suggestion of this lesson is to treat someone as a tax collector or Gentile if they refuse to repent. Since this would require avoidance of the sinner it is extreme and should not be taken lightly. Since, in fact, we are all sinners, perhaps the benefit of the doubt is best applied here.
Finally, for me, the most instructive advice is the encouragement to pray. I would even suggest that prayer should be our first recourse when someone sins against us, to discern the best course of action and God’s will.
Am I open to discerning God’s will when dealing with those who sin against me?
Dear Lord, help me to discern the times I must speak a word of correction to another and help me to do it in accordance with Your will.
Copyright 2020 Ann Rock
About the Author
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