23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The authority, which Jesus gives to his apostles, to bind and loose on earth and in heaven, is shared in different degrees by all the members of the Church. Each of us, as parents, teachers, friends, priest, siblings, have a duty to correct, to warn and teach when necessary. Our Lord gives very practical steps. Have a quiet word yourself, if that doesn’t work involve a few others, if that doesn’t work the whole parish or church needs to act and finally if nothing works the person concerned must realise the have excluded themselves from the community. They have excommunicated themselves.
There are two further considerations that the word of God gives us. First, as St Paul says, all must be done in love. The motive and method of correction must be love. Practically this means that there will be as many ways of correcting and teaching as there are people. Not all children need to be corrected in the same way by their parents; different children will need different correction. But all good parents will correct out of love. Note too that the love which motivates this correction is divine love. Divine love is fully revealed on the cross – so if our correction is born of love it must involve the cross. If we wish to correct and teach well then we must be making sacrifices.
Second. People remain free to reject love. The first reading makes clear our duty to correct and teach. But there is no guarantee that people will listen.
However underlining all this are the promises of Our Lord. Whatever you ask when you are gathered in my name will be granted by the Father because I am in your midst. That is description of Holy Mass. Gathered in his name he is in our midst in the Holy Eucharist. Holy Mass is the place where above all our duty to correct and teach in love is best expressed. Here united in love with the one who is love, united with him as he offers himself in sacrifice for our sake, uniting our prayers with his prayer , which has won the salvation of the world – we pray for those who need correction and teaching (and I don’t speak for you, but I am always first in the need for correction queue).
Sure there seem to be those who will not listen, those who stubbornly exclude themselves but there is no more effective correction than the love Jesus has for them. Who knows if or when they will be won back by Jesus, conquered by the love of God revealed in the Church.
But our prayers, our sacrifices, our duty to correct in appropriate ways must be in earnest. People remain free to reject divine love revealed in Jesus (which is to choose hell) but always our corrections our warnings our appeals are motivated by and expresses divine love.
In summary always offer prayers at mass for those about whom you are concerned.