03 September 2011

PLEASE MAKE IT FRATERNAL


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mt 18:15-20

      The problem with many of our fraternal correction sessions is that they are not fraternal at all.  Quite often, there is little, if any, brotherly in the way we correct one another.  Thus, fraternal correction ends up in fraternal destruction, like a demolition project, a collapse of relationships where doors are not only closed but bridges are also burnt.
      Fraternal corrections must bear three things.
     First, genuine love should be the only motive for correcting the erring.  It must be love between brothers; that is why it is defined as “fraternal”.  Just as genuine love is its sole motive, its only goal must be authentic love as well. Genuine love means wishing the authentic good of the other.
     Second, fraternal correction is not judgment day.  It should not be considered as the long awaited day of verdict regarding the character of the one being corrected.  Judging the other does not correct; it condemns.  Judging does not fix anything; it separates the accuser from the accused.  Judging closes the ears, hardens the heart, and, sometimes, even clenches the fist.  Avoid judging when correcting.  Say how the other’s negative behavior affects you instead.  Judging says, “You are a liar!”  Fraternal correction says, “When you lie, I am deeply hurt because I trust you and believe in you always.”
    Third, every fraternal correction should be a “win-win” situation.  We correct not to put the other down.  We correct to raise the other up.  We correct not to prove that we are certainly right while the other is undoubtedly wrong.  We correct to have a better life together.  We correct not to triumph over the other.  We correct to build up one another.  When the fraternal correction is over, every party should feel a winner.  Fraternal correction is not for losers.
     When we do fraternal correction, let us make sure that we gather in the name of Jesus.  When we do so, Jesus promises two things in the Gospel today, our prayers will be granted and Jesus shall be in our midst.
      I propose three things for us to agree on: (1.) meet together in the name of the Lord; (2.) pray together for unity; and (3.) where correction is needed do so together as brothers and sisters.  This proposal is open to corrections, too.  But please make it fraternal also.

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