Is it good to correct someone? Is it easy to correct someone who has done something wrong? What would happen to children who were never corrected by their parents for the wrong they are doing? Would it be a sign that their parents love them or would it be a sign that they do not care about them?
In today’s readings, we find clear teaching which helps us to act very prudently and lovingly with the delicate matter of fraternal correction which is not the same as a simple punishment. A true son or daughter of God and friend of Jesus cannot make a correction an end in itself. Only charity for our brothers and sisters can make us want to help them live in truth and love as the only way to become one with God and with one another.
In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is made accountable by God to warn the wicked man to renounce his evil ways. If he does not correct him he sins by omission. We need to understand that God expects the correction of the wrongdoer to be carried out because it is a matter of salvation. God is love and even when he punishes it is always because he cares about our sanctification.
Yet how did Jesus instruct us in the Gospel to approach the wrongdoer? He does not want gossiping about the wrongdoer and in order to preserve the reputation and his or her dignity, Jesus wants us to talk to our brother or sister alone as the first step in the process of fraternal correction.
As we know, we are all sinners and none of us wants to be corrected and judged in a harsh way. Therefore, as St Paul reminds us: “You must love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus perfected that commandment of charity toward one another at the Last Supper when he declared: “Love one another as I have loved you”. (John 13) If we think that not correcting someone who needs to be corrected is an act of respect, perhaps is it actually a “sin by omission”! Therefore, let us pray when we are not sure of what to do toward certain persons who perhaps repeatedly do something wrong. The Holy Spirit will enlighten us.
Let us apply this Gospel this coming week within our family, among our friends and at work. This Christian attitude will make us bear witness to Jesus.