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Association of the Miraculous Medal
Gospel Reflections for September 10
 

Besides her great privilege of being the Mother of God, Mary was also her Son’s first disciple. She is often called the Model, or Exemplar of the Church. Following her example, we walk with her through the Gospels as we reflect on her response to God in her life.

September 10, 2017 — Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18:15-20
 Father Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.

It was a long sermon at a school Mass and the children got restless. A lad in the front pew started to whisper to another. Several pews behind, Sister took note. “Tell him to stop talking,” she told the boy beside her. He protested strongly, but she insisted. Finally, the boy, martyr-like, walked up to the sanctuary and said, “Father, Sister says for you to stop talking.”

Correcting others is not easy! But sometimes correction is necessary, and in today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us four steps to follow. First, correction should begin on a one-to-one basis. It hurts when we are corrected in the presence of others. Also, correction works best when preceded by praise. Erma Bombeck used to ask her children to clean their rooms only after praising them. Sometimes all she could say was: “My, but you keep a neat ceiling.”

Second, if a person does not respond to correction, Jesus tells us to get others to help. After an alumni reunion, a man was about to drive home while under the influence of alcohol. A classmate spoke to him without success. The classmate immediately got several others, and together they convinced the driver to let someone else take him home.

Third, if step two fails, Jesus says we should take the matter “to the church.”  Many parishes today offer family counseling to help resolve difficult issues. All the baptized are members of the church, so any time we bring problems to authorities who really believe in Jesus, we follow his advice.

Fourth, if previous steps fail, Jesus says to treat the offender like “a Gentile or a tax collector.” We must never withhold love, but at times we should avoid offenders who continue their sinful ways, seek to do us harm, or who try to lead us into sin.

None of this is easy, but Jesus promises that when two or three pray together, he is there to help. When married couples pray together, they can face difficulties more honestly. When parents pray with children, they are more likely to offer discipline in a Christlike way.

It isn’t easy to correct or confront, but friends will do it because it prevents greater harm. If we correct others with love, they won’t have to deal with the issue at the Last Judgment.

 

Read last week's reflection.