The Gospel Today
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 18: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
“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.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
Reflection (Sem., Eldrick Peña):
While reflecting on today’s Gospel, one thing entered my mind immediately – Fraternal correction which is one of the norms in seminary formation. Fraternal correction, simply put is the act of calling the attention of a brother regarding a mistake or shortcoming that he commits. Since it is fraternal, it should be done in the most “brotherly” and charitable way with the purpose of making the brother realize the wrong that he did so that he may change for the better. Fraternal correction therefore is done through “care-frontation” and not confrontation; through peaceful and responsible dialogue between brothers.
But, although it is one of the norms of Seminary living, it is also one of the most difficult to live out especially if you are going to correct someone who is higher than you in terms of formation level or you have issues on low self-esteem and fear of rejection. Because of this “baggage” that you have, you are forced to just keep quiet and do nothing to correct an erring brother; you find yourself falling under the spell of smooth interpersonal relationship (SIR). You will just keep quiet so you would not destroy your friendship and relationship with your other brothers.
This defeats the wisdom behind fraternal correction. Since it is done out of love and concern, it is most beneficial and efficacious for the person being corrected. Awareness is key towards a change of heart and transformation of one’s lives. Sometimes, some people are not aware that they are doing something bad and calling their attention will bring them into a consciousness of such wrong doing. Fraternal correction is sign of being a brother to another brother; for in the seminary, we are considered a co-formator to each one and in that sense, assuming responsibility for the formation of a fellow brother.
Today’s Gospel is inviting us to be open in giving and receiving fraternal correction in the form of constructive feedback so that we could start being a true brother/sister to our neighbour and thus, becoming an agent for another person’s conversion and transformation.