Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 10, 2017
Belonging to a religious order is like belonging to a family. We Franciscans try to treat each other in the same fashion—as family. And that goes for tough times as well as good times. Once in a great while, we have to confront a brother with a problem, and seek to help him, or get help for him, in a loving way. Such “tough love” isn’t easy; it’s not easy in natural families either.
Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s step-by-step plan for dealing with someone in the community who sins. Much like a charitable intervention in a family, Jesus urges us to begin “one on one,” so as to minimize the embarrassment or good reputation of the person. Only when necessary are others to be included, and then with proper evidence.
A wider circle of Christians might have to become involved, and only as a last resort is someone ever excluded from the community—and even then, Jesus’ advice is to treat such a one as a Gentile or tax collector. And we know that both of these receive Jesus’ healing or acceptance in various Gospel stories.
No religious order, no Catholic parish, no Catholic family is without its need to deal with failures to live up to the values of our faith. And in reaching out, none of these should be without Christ’s compassionate plan for healing.