Selection of the sermons of Father Ezekiel Oko

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Sermon for 23th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the reading year: B

Sibling rebuke! Love counts!

We all have our weaknesses and mistakes, whether we know them or not. For no one, everything that glitters is gold. The question is, how do we deal with each other's mistakes and weaknesses?

Dear sisters and brothers, it often happens that we criticize others without sensitive consideration. It also sometimes happens that we even gossip about our neighbor's mistake without talking about it with him. Something like this just happens without us noticing how much we are hurting our neighbors. Because it is said: the easiest to recognize are other people's mistakes, but the most difficult to recognize and admit are your own mistakes!

Perhaps you have had the painful experience of realizing your mistakes not through the loving correction of others, but through the gossip that spread about those mistakes. Relationships have broken down as a result, be it in the family, in circles of acquaintances or friends, or even in the community.

Should we then look the other way when the other person makes mistakes? No! That's not a solution either. Today's readings teach us how to deal with each other's weaknesses and mistakes. The first instruction is that we should not look away. That is exactly what we heard at first reading. We have to take responsibility for each other. But how? We can do this best when we correct one another - out of love.

When we correct our neighbor in a way that respects his dignity and gives him the opportunity to tell his side of the story, it is an act of charity and responsibility for one another! This is also called fraternal correction.

Sibling correction begins with the thought that I too have my own weaknesses and faults. Then comes the question, “What would I have wanted if I were in his situation?” I think about how I would want to be corrected if I were the other person.

With these sensitive thoughts, it becomes clear to me that it would be difficult for me to accept criticism in the form of gossip, even if I am not perfect. Sibling correction is different and has a completely different effect. It is to correct the other person's mistake in the way I would have liked. You feel the good will of the person correcting you, you experience the love that wants to win back an erring sister or brother. Dear sisters and brothers, the correction of a sister or brother is very important, not only in the life of a Christian, but also in the life of a Christian community. As Jesus shows in today's Gospel, the goal is to win back the erring one.

A personal conversation is very important as a first step. If you succeed in this first step, that's wonderful. But if that doesn't work, then you should get witnesses. This also protects the other person better than talking about the other person in the media. And if that doesn't work, then the community should decide first. Only after these steps “let he be to you as a heathen or a tax collector.”

We might think, well, does one have to go to such great lengths just to correct the other person? However, the actual goal is not to rebuke the other person, but rather to win him back. If we care about others, we must follow this path of charity.

Even though Jesus says that we should see the other person as a Gentile or a tax collector when our efforts don't work, He doesn't mean that we should throw them out. We must remember one thing: Jesus always cared about these people - the Gentiles and the tax collectors. He wanted to win her back for God. Even if we fail to win the other person back, we can continue to pray for them so that they can find and accept an opportunity to repent.

Maybe you have someone in your life whose mistakes and weaknesses upset you. What steps did you take to try to win him back? Have you had a private conversation with him? Which steps are still missing? Did he still remain in his mistake? Don't forget to pray for him. Don't judge him definitively. Because he can still change.

Gospel of 23th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the reading year B;