By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THE gospel reading of Wednesday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, which falls this year 2023 on August 16, talks about the Christian duty of making fraternal corrections as a true expression of fraternal love among ourselves. It also talks about the Christ-given power of Christ’s disciples to consider bound in heaven what they bind on earth, and to consider loosed in heaven what they loose on earth. (cfr. Mt 18,15-20)
It’s a truth of faith that we have to live by, after considering its practical implications of truly having the mind and heart of Christ which is full of mercy while also knowing how to give due consideration to the requirements of justice.
Truth is, irrespective of our different and even conflicting conditions and situations in life, we are all brothers and sisters in our common humanity, and children of God who are meant to share God’s life and nature, created as we are to be God’s image and likeness.
In this regard, we have to learn to deal and truly love the others as they really are in real time, warts and all. Of course, we have to maintain the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, but we have to learn how to live and love each one individually and personally, helping them as much as we can in their various needs, material or spiritual, etc.
This is how Christ loves us. It’s a love that is individualized and personalized, kind of adapted to the way each person is. Thus, it is said that Christ went all the way to becoming like sin even if he did not commit any sin just to identify himself with each one of us and to give us a way of how to deal with our condition of weakness and sinfulness.
If we truly have the mind and heart of Christ, we should be quick to understand and forgive those who may offend us. In a sense, we should not be scandalized by anything. That, of course, requires a certain toughness that can only come with God’s grace and our earnest efforts.
This Christian spirit of fraternity should be first developed and lived in the context of the family life. Thus, parents have the very important duty to fill their family life with a lot of love and affection for one another at home, since it’s only then that the children, especially the young ones, would learn how to love, show affection and live true fraternity among themselves and with everybody else.
Of special interest in this duty of fostering fraternity is the need to look after the spiritual and moral life of the others.
To strengthen our spirit of fraternity and charity, we should see to it that we are always friendly to everyone in spite of our unavoidable differences and conflicts. Our friendships should be truly human, complete with generous details of affection and ready understanding and compassion. But it, of course, has to be based on the supernatural love of God that is fueled by his grace which we should always ask for.
If we would have such spirit of fraternity, then we would find it easy to fraternize with everyone, including those who are clearly in error or are great offenders and sinners. That’s what Christ did, even to the extent of ruffling the sentiments of some self-righteous people who considered themselves to be without sin.