In our second reading this week we hear St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans to follow the commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He also tells them that love itself is the fulfillment of the law. This must be our goal in following God’s laws, to have a deeper love of God and neighbor. The problem that we can easily fall into is following laws simply for the sake of the law itself. At this point, law becomes turned inward and rather meaningless or heartless. This can lead to a spirit of being judgmental towards others. This is never helpful, more often than not it leads us away from love perhaps even leads us to a spirit of resentment or even hatred.
Even Jesus, in this Gospel today, gives us a really practical guideline for what we often call “fraternal correction.” His basic standard is if you see your brother or sister making a mistake go and talk to them about it first. Endeavor first to work it out with them. If this does not work, then and only then is it appropriate to bring it to a higher authority. This too is a matter of love. When we truly love our neighbor, we want to help them to come to the right decisions without judging them based off those decisions. This way we are honoring God’s law in the way it’s intended to be honored… as a way of loving our neighbor.
Perhaps too, in regards to dealing with our neighbors, some advice from St. Teresa of Calcutta is very useful and prudent… “We are called to be faithful, not successful.” In other words, we cannot expect to change our brother and sister… we can only expect to love them.
St. Alexander… pray for us
God Bless, Fr Mark