Love is the most noble things a human being can do.
With love there is often joy and we all know that with love there are also tears and sacrifices.
love surrenders, love heals,
love gives life.
Today’s Gospel teaches us about an essential characteristic of love which many of us would prefer to forget or put aside.
Jesus reminds us today that when our love is real,
when we love like God loves
we must also care enough to humbly correct or challenge those we know and love.
We all understand this when it comes to our children.
What parent would let a little child play around a stove with boiling water on it and not correct them?
What parent would let a little kid run into the street and not stop them and correct them?
However this type of love is just so hard when our kids get older,
or with our friends, our peers and our families.
Quite often in these situations when we see a person making a bad choice we chose to remain silent.
We don’t say a word.
We cop out with phrases like…
“It’s none of my business.”
“I’m no Saint”
“Who am I to say anything?”
Sometimes we know something is going on in a marriage.
Sometimes we know that a person is stealing from the job or
we know that a person is becoming more and more dependent on alcohol or some other substance
but we prefer to stay quiet, removed and safe from the situation.
We simply don’t want to get involved in the mess sometimes.
Even when the mess is someone that we love.
Then when disaster hits that person’s life we may even say something like…
“I saw that coming for a while.”
“I knew that marriage was going to end.”
“I knew that he or she was a DUI waiting to happen.”
I knew said nothing
Why are we so hesitant to love like Jesus calls us to love?
Maybe we are loath to say anything because we don’t’ have our own house in order.
Often we sit back and watch our friends and our loves ones paddle a canoe over the falls because we are so afraid that we don’t know what to say or how to say it.
I understand all of these excuses I’ve used them myself.
Jesus wants more from us
And Jesus and our loved ones need more from us.
In today’s Gospel He gives us some pointers on how to love someone enough to correct or challenge them.
The first point he makes is simply this.
Don’t remain silent….
If we see someone living contrary to the gospel,
or if we are hurt or upset by someone,
then love does not permit us to look the other way.
Jesus does not want us to humiliate someone.
Whenever something is wrong our first obligation is to address it privately,
Maybe we could say something like
“I love you so much I can’t keep quiet anymore.”
If a one on one conversation doesn’t work love does not let us off the hook.
Jesus would then find others who are worried and concern and bring them into the discussion
Once again this type of intervention should be done humbly and quietly.
If the person sinning continues to refuse to see the error of their ways
then Jesus once again tells us to try again and widens the circle a little more asking us to even involve the church in an attempt to save them from themselves.
Finally when all else fails Jesus says treat them like you would as a tax collector or a gentile.”
At first glance this seems to indicate that we should distance ourselves from the person we are concerned about.
The Jews of Jesus’ time looked on gentiles and tax collectors with distain.
It is important to remember however that Jesus did not.
He loved sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes.
Jesus was a friend to them even before they changed even if they never changed he loved them.
Holy ones let’s write this on our hearts.
Love real love cannot remain silent when a brother or a sister is headed in the wrong direction
Love cannot remain silent when someone is hurting themselves or others or not following God’s law.
Love always corrects and challenges in a humble way.
Love never permits us to give up even when a person refuses see the error of their ways.
Love must be persistent and patient with a person who sins.
Lord take away our fear
and please help us love always.