Spiritual readings for Sunday 10th September
04 September 2017 CGI news
Week of 4th September (reference: readings of Sunday 10th September)
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: Rm 13,8-10; Mt 18,15-20
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you”.
The readings for this week are teachings on how this could be the perfect model of how we should behave within our branches in the Vincentian Family, in particular in the SSVP. In general, we make many reflections on our actions to the Poor, but we forget to think about how we relate to our brothers in the Vincentian family.
First, it is necessary to remember what the atmosphere was like in the first Conference. Before serving the Poor, Ozanam and the other founders were primarily friends. Their friendship started when they were students at University, blossomed through sharing of their faith. It is also noteworthy that Ozanam came from Lyon to Paris to study. Paris, then, was a dangerous city, especially because it was an environment of little faith and morals. Ozanam and his friends set up a group to defend the Church – the Conferences of History - in the style of an "isolated redoubt", where they could also share their faith. The emergence of charity for these conferences came later and faith was completed with works, in addition to consolidating their friendship.
Let's look at the message of the Gospel for this week which is very important for our friendly relationship within the SSVP. Jesus says: "If your brother sins against you, go and correct him, but you and him alone" (verse 15).
How many times do we judge our brothers and prefer to tell it to others, without telling him what we think! When we talk to others about a brother whom "we do not like" or who offended us, we are creating two problems: first, we increase our grudge in relation to the brother, and second, we generate a bad atmosphere in our Conference or Council. Jesus tells us later in the reading: "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (v. 18). This message is not only for the Apostles of Jesus’ time or for the priests and monks of our time; it is for us. If we create disagreements in the SSVP or in our family, or at work, or in our parish, we are generating disagreements in heaven. If we close the possibility of reconciliation here, we are closing it in heaven.
Why do we try to avoid talking directly and "one-to-one" with our brothers with whom we do not have a good relationship? It may be because of shyness, it can be for our arrogance, or it may be that to speak negatively about him is easier than talking to him. We have to break down these barriers (of shyness or arrogance) and be greater than ourselves, act like Ozanam would do and meet this brother, especially when we do not like him!
What is the consequence of not talking directly and "one-to-one" to our brother? First, we lose a huge opportunity to form a great friendship. How many times, in a conversation with someone that we do not like, we discover his "other side", we look at him differently and that person becomes special for us! Secondly, we lose the opportunity to "connect" more with God in Heaven. Very often, with a one-to-one conversation, we do a huge good to someone who needs so much our friendship and above all our Vincentian charity.
It is not enough to know well the Vincentian Rule, we also need to express love towards the person who share with us our vocation of sanctification through the service to the Poor. Saint Paul defines this point very well: "love is the perfect fulfilment of the Law" (v. 10).