23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sept. 4, 2011)

Sunday’s Gospel about correcting one’s brother or sister is a tough one. We live in a time when “Mind your own business” seems to be the operating principle. Heck, with all the anger and rage and guns out there, saying anything that another person perceives as negative or critical can put you at risk of serious physical harm! At the very least it will unleash a torrent of name-calling and defensive self-justification. I know, because I’ve done it, and it’s been done unto me! It’s the possible repercussions that keep us from saying anything, even though the person or persons might be doing irreparable damage to the community, organization, or family.

I shy away from any one-on-one confrontation. There IS security in a group confrontation, no two ways about it. It has to be a close friendship indeed for me to say something to another about his/her behavior.

In addition, one thing I check myself on goes back to that saying of Jesus about the splinter on the other’s eye, and the beam in my own. Is my concern for the community, or for my own conenience and peace? What Jesus did not say, and I wish he had, is that the first step is praying and facing one’s own selfishness involved in any fault-finding. What about me is being inconvenienced or upset? Is it his/her problem, or is it more my problem?

It’s prayer that has helped me a lot over the years. If a person is acting in ways that are destructive, I pray for his or her healing. But I also pray for my own conversion of attitude towards that person. Thinking positively about a person (or even just neutrally) is a critical first step in bringing healing. Thinking negatively only exacerbates the problems.

Be God’s smile for someone today!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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