SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY

JESUS ADMONISHES THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL JOHN 4:1-42

 

SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY ADMONISH THE SINNER

“Jesus said, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

(Mathew 18:15-18).

It is important to note that Jesus explains that we should first seek out our “brother” in private. Too many of us skip to the public rebuke of family and friends in gossip, or even more public on Facebook.  .

Too often, we aggressively try to humiliate someone or go to war with them.  But Jesus says we must adopt “fraternal charity.  Sometimes we assume a superior state of mind like the Pharisee praying in the synagogue in front of the publican in the back.  But it is the publican that goes home, restored. (Luke 18:19)

Why does Jesus and His Church asks us and encourage us to “admonish” the sinner? It is a reminder NOT to follow the Cain model. After killing his brother Abel, Cain answered God, “I’m not my brother’s keeper.”  Yes we are!  We are not alone on our journey home; sure our own salvation is top priority but we need to bring others with us to salvation.  God wills the salvation of all.

Also, in Last Judgment discourse, (Matthew 25:45) Jesus warns us about the sin of omission, “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me” Being silent when it is our duty to speak out is a sin.

To correct my neighbor in love is not the same as judging that person.  After all, I am not judging the person’s soul, but warning him that his actions are wrong, and are destructive to the truth and meaning of who he is meant to be before Almighty God. “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” In other words be the best you can be!

Many of us certainly feel awkward correcting a friend. We should be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 16:1) We have to pick our spots and words carefully. Isaiah 42:3 says this about our Jesus, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…”

Here are a few hints of an approach you may take in a given situation. Someone uses God’s name in vain, a simple request by you is sufficient, ““Please do not use the Name of the Lord Jesus in that way.” A friend describes an affair he is having, “Your spouse deserves your love and fidelity.  That affair that you have been having is not only wrong, but it is destructive to your marriage and your family.  One more example, A friend has anger management issues, “You need to get some help for your anger problem.  If you don’t seek help, you might end up destroying your family

To admonish the sinner is not to belittle or humiliate a person, but rather to alert him/her to the danger of a sinful course of action. It is rooted in love, not pride.  In our culture, sadly, admonishing the sinner has fallen out of favor for numerous reasons. Many reject any moral authority outside  of themselves. Admonishing is seen by many as an attempt to impose his or her values on others, or as some sort of unfair or arbitrary judgment.  (Moral Relativism)

Sadly, the tool Jesus suggested if the sinner does not even listen to the Church then he should be separated from communion with the Church(treated as a tax collector or Gentile) Matthew 18:18 is rarely used today.. Excommunication is intended to be serious “medicine” to bring the unrepentant to his senses and his spiritual well being.

Lord, give me the courage and humility to admonish sinners and the grace to do it in love. Lord, help me to have the courage and humility to accept correction myself, and grant me the grace to see it as an act of love, even if it is not always artfully done.

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