I Will Hold You Responsible
As we continue to reflect on the teachings of our Lord Jesus, today’s Gospel reminds us of our Christian duty to be willing to correct our brothers and sisters when the need arises. Jesus tells us how to carry out this admonition in our community when dealing with the unrepentant offender. As you know, it is not always easy to correct someone without them feeling being judged or attacked. There are people who set their own moral standard and care little how that affects their family, neighbor and community.
Admonition is, at times, necessary in the interest of our neighbor’s welfare. An early step in dealing with chemical dependency, for example, is intervention. The dependent person is kindly but firmly confronted by others regarding his or her illness. This is a painful experience for the sufferer as well as for the confronter. The results are often salutary and mark the beginning of conversion; sometimes it can lead to alienation and bitterness. It remains, however, a good example of admonition. The well-being of the person demands a painful encounter but it springs from a desire to heal, not to hurt.
The same is true in dealing with other personal ills in our church or society. The failure to correct has led to a major crisis in our society; wars and all kinds of immoralities. Jesus teaches us that correcting or bringing back those who have lost their fidelity to God is actually a service to God. Therefore, you and I have the responsibility to look after one another. All these must be done in love and respect of the person. Since no one is exempt from failure or error, we might well start by accepting the fact that others could perform this duty of fraternal correction and spiritual support for us.
The love that Saint Paul encourages on us is summed up by the Prophet Ezekiel: “If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, I will hold you responsible for his death.” Our love must extend to those attitudes and actions that would prevent our neighbors from truly loving themselves and their destiny. “If your brother listens to you, you have won him over” because Jesus himself is in the midst of such love. Do not be afraid to speak up, for love does no evil to the neighbor; love is the fulfillment of the law.
Grace and Peace to You,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike