If you have a knife, you can actually cut today’s Gospel text into
The first part of the Gospel is about fraternal correction. The second part is about gathering together in prayer. Here the Lord also tells us that whatever we want will be given to us.
As I reflected in prayer over this Gospel text last night, I asked myself why the evangelist put fraternal correction before community prayer. I think the Gospel message for us is very clear. The most important aspect of fraternal correction, or the most effective way of fraternal correction, is to pray for the person who needs to be corrected.
So many sins are committed in the name of fraternal correction. So many persons are hooked under the banner of constructive criticism. But how many of us really pray for the people we want to correct?
If you see something wrong or find fault in a person, the first thing you do is to get angry at the person. You try to control your anger, but if you cannot control your anger, you shout at the person who commits a mistake. If you are able to control yourself and do not shout, what you will do, in all probability, will be to tell another person about it. And this is how gossip begins. Your action becomes gossip because you do not talk to the person who commits a mistake, perhaps out of fear of that person, so you talk about your experiences to somebody else.
But have you ever thought about this? If somebody commits an offense against you, then the first person you should talk to is not the person who commits the mistake – the first person to talk to is God.
If somebody has hurt you, talk to God about that person. If somebody needs correction, talk to God about that brother or that sister. If somebody needs to be criticized, first talk to God about that criticism you want to say.
The most effective way of correcting people is by prayer. We must realize that it is not our good words that change hearts, it is not our beautiful words that make people change their ways, it is only the grace of God. Only God can change people, not us. Only the grace of God can convert hearts, not us. That is why prayer is the most important, vital instrument in fraternal correction.
We will pray today for the people we want to correct. We will pray today for the people we are tempted to criticize. And we will talk to God about them. And we will tell God, “Lord, I do not know how to say it but I just want to talk to You. I want to get angry in Your presence. Lord, I want to correct. Please take care of that correction. I offer everything, I lift up my brother, my sister, my daughter, my son, my wife, my husband to you.
A BROTHER WHO SINS
Only Jesus, Always Jesus