23RD SUNDAY: MATTHEW 18: 15-20
Today’s gospel speaks about how to correct and forgive each other when we commit sins and faults. The great Anglican priest and poet, John Donne reminds us that: “No man is an island, entire unto himself.” Modern believers have a tendency to think that they have no right to interfere in the private lives of others and so they pay no attention to the people who are living in a sinful life.
Sometimes, we say that: “As sinners, we don’t have the moral courage or right to correct others.” But Jesus empathetically affirms that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers and have a serious obligation to correct others with respect, without judging, and in a compassionate way.
Jesus challenged and corrected His disciples on many occasions. Even during the last supper, Jesus said to Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Jesus did not want to correct or put Judas down in front of the other disciples. Both Jesus and Judas knew what was going on. Even at the last moment, Jesus gave Judas a chance to change his plan, repent, and come back to life. We should help our friends and family members retain their Christian faith and practices, especially through the example of our own daily life. In our human nature, we have a tendency to judge and we make unnecessary comments about other people without really knowing the truth. Sometimes, our actions or bitter words can cause hurt and pain among family members, in workplaces, and even in the religious communities.
Recently I heard a story about the former India President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who was an Indian scientist and politician who served his country as president from 2002 to 2007. He says, “When I was a young boy, one night my mother cooked vegetables and extremely burnt roti (a type of Indian bread) in front of my father. I was waiting to see what my father was going to tell my mother, but father just ate his burnt bread and he asked me about my day at school.
Later that night I heard my mother apologizing to my father for the burnt bread. And I will never forget what father said: “Honey, I love burnt bread.” Later that night, I went to say good night to father and I asked him if he really liked his burnt bread. He hugged me and said: “Your mother worked hard all day and she is really tired. And beside … A burnt bread never hurt anyone but HARD WORDS DO!” My dear son — life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people… I am not the best or perfect! What I have learned over the years is: To accept each other’s faults and choose to celebrate relationships. Life is too short to wake up with regrets and life is full of surprises! Love the people who treat you right and have compassion for the ones who don’t!”
What we see in others is indeed a reflection of our inner lives! It is not good for us to condemn or judge others without reason. If we are good and clean inside, we will see good things in others. Let us try to not judge others, especially if we are clouded by jealousy, negativity, or unfulfilled desires. Remember the saying, “When you point one finger at another person, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” Let us follow the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?”