TWENTY THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle A/Year I (September 10, 2017)
Ez 33:7-9/Rom 13:8-10/Mt 18:15-20
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” These famous words of an English classic poet in the name of John Donne remind us all that we can never live by ourselves and for ourselves only. In our daily life, we will always encounter persons whom we can never ignore because of so many reasons one of which is that we certainly need those persons.
In the gospel for this Sunday, Jesus exhorts all of us to exercise the fraternal correction, which is, correcting the erroneous actions and attitudes of our neighbors. Indeed, this teaching of Jesus is one of the most disregarded teachings among all the others. This is because to correct our erring companion is to submit ourselves to possible risks which include the danger of being misunderstood, the probability of hurting the erring person, and even the threat of gaining enemy and losing friend. So, even though we see clearly the wrong and evil things that our companions do and that we are so desirous to correct them, yet because of fear of those risks, we simply close our eyes to what we see and our ears to what we hear and then ignore our erring companions.
The fact that our society is full of evil deeds and doers is because we do not do our Christian obligation to cut those evil deeds by correcting our erring companions. The massive corruption in the government and in the private companies, the immense fraud in the local and national elections and the numerous scams that involve multimillion and even billion pesos that are lost from the government funds to the hands of a very few powerful and greedy are but some examples of the evil things that happening in our society due to the abuse of our erring brethren and the indifference of all of us to the crimes of our neighbors.
Our lack of response to the evil things that are happening in our society shows what kind of Christians we are. Certainly, we have not yet lived the teaching of Christ regarding the fraternal correction otherwise; our world would have been very different. We have not acted upon the calling of Christ for we lack care and love for our brethren and our society. We have been so selfish that we only think of ourselves, our safety and comfort. We do not care for what is happening around us so long as we live a good life and we are contented with what we have. Yet our selfish attitude rather brings more evil to the society and more sins on our part.
The intense poverty that majority of the citizens encounter, the lack of the basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing on the part of many of our brethren, the increasing number of death due to the lack of medicine, the forced labor on the part of the children, the malnutrition on the part of so many infants, the increase of crimes, drugs and prostitutions, contraception and abortions in our society – all these reveal the fact that we do not do our obligations not only as citizens of our country but most especially as brethren of all these sufferings and needy in one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They confirm that we are not yet truly Christians since we tolerate all those evil things to happen and that we do not do our best to show our concern and care for our brethren in Christ.
John Donne continues with his famous poetical meditations: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” The poverty of the multitude, the sufferings of the many and the marginalization of some must shake our hearts and faith if we are serious with our Christian belief for John Donne’s poem wakes us up to the reality of Christ’s teaching that we are all brothers and sisters in Jesus, and that we are all children of God. As one big family of God, we must care for one another and we can do this if we widen our vision and broaden our horizon. True faith in Christ leads to the discovery of the truth that we are one in faith in the one Lord; it brings us to conversion from being selfish to being humanitarian; and it encourages us to extend our hands to our needy brethren in Christ.