It’s no wonder when we listen to the apostles at the end of everything that Jesus has said that they’re saying to him, increase our faith. This is hard stuff. This is not easy, what he’s talking about here. And it’s not easy on a whole bunch of levels.
It’s not easy on the one hand because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like confronting someone else. Let alone confronting them because they have sinned. On some levels, I suppose there are times when it’s a little bit easier if your parents caring for children. Then that’s kind of the role, or if you’re a teacher in a classroom, I guess there’s certain things that come there.
But if we’re just going through our ordinary life, it’s not very easy. In fact, rarely have I seen in religious life where fraternal correction is supposed to be a part of religious life. Rarely have I seen it work well. But Jesus is really getting at something here. And it’s namely that our love for each other should be so great that one, and probably most importantly, we could receive such criticism. You know, he’s saying here, if your brother rebukes you, your sister rebukes you, whatever, do this.
But what if somebody rebukes me and identifies my shortcoming or my sinfulness? Can I have a heart that’s open, at least to reflect on whether there’s any validity to something that’s said? It has to be tempered with the second part, which I’m not going to lie is no easier in many instances, especially if it’s significant.
If your brother sins, and we can add sister, rebuke him, rebuke her. But if he wrongs you seven times a day, in one day, and returns to you seven times and says, I’m sorry. Oh my gosh.
Now, I always feel compelled in gospels like this to make one significant caveat. We’re never talking about physical safety here. You know, like if you’re, there are a lot of people who are in relationships where there’s violence in the home.
Okay, that’s a completely different area altogether, because that’s one of the challenges for someone in domestic violence, is that the person who’s often the abuser says, I’m really sorry, I’ll never do this again. So that’s not what we’re talking about here, but I always feel compelled because I never, I don’t know your stories, and I don’t know a lot of stories, and I just want to be sensitive to that.
But in general, there’s a wisdom. Imagine if one of your closest friends did something wrong, and you said, no, I’m never going to forgive you, you’re out of my life, that’s too bad for you. Or if parents, when their kids did something wrong, said, well, you had your chance, we’ve given you life, we’ve given you love, that’s too bad, we recognize that we’re not perfect.
And I don’t know about you, but I find in my own life that sometimes the things that really irritate me about others, it’s not really about others, I do those things in my own life, and then it irritates me because it’s like they’re holding up a mirror to me and showing me things I don’t like about myself.
Today we celebrate a great, great saint, especially in this country, Saint Francis Cabrini. Mother Cabrini wanted to go to China, and the pope said, no, don’t want you to go east, I want you to go west. And she came to the United States, and she cared for immigrants all over this country. It does seem to me without being political that if we’re going to honor the work of Mother Cabrini, we have to analyze our own feelings about immigrants and refugees when they come into our midst.
Not easy, got to be prudent, but at the same time we can’t hold up someone like Mother Cabrini, while at the same time saying we don’t want to be like Mother Cabrini. But she was an amazing and wonderful saint. Let us ask the Lord today to help us to welcome the stranger, for we know in so doing we are really welcoming the Christ.
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