Sunday Reflections

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 10, 2023

Reflection by:

Reflection by:

Fr. Paul Voisin, CR

One of the human reactions to possible conflicts is silence, yet Jesus tells us that we must actively seek to reach out and correct other.  Otherwise, the words of famous British statesman, Edmund Burke, will come true: “All that is needed for evil to prosper is for good people to remain silent”. 

Jesus did not remain silent when He saw injustice or hypocrisy, when He saw division and unfaithfulness.  He would not allow evil to prosper.  And neither should we!   I am sure that none of us, or at least very few, like confrontation.  Jesus tells us that, as brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to help each other to identify, articulate and overcome our faults.  So often we can find ourselves in the situation, “Do I say something or not?”  and then “How do I say it?  How do I communicate my concern, my complaint, and my criticism?”  It seems like Jesus has a three-point plan – first we speak to the other person; secondly, we ask for the help of another (or others).  I am sure we have all had the experience that we have tried to express difficult things to someone alone, but sometimes because of personalities, or because of the past, no matter how sincere we may be there is an automatic obstacle to the person listening and accepting our correction.  Finally, Jesus says to “tell the church”.  What could that mean?  Perhaps, it could take the form of depending more directly on prayer to find the right words, or even asking others of faith to help intervene in the situation.  Perhaps someone has the right words to touch the mind, heart and spirit of the person!

There is a saying: “You can attract more flies with sugar than with vinegar”.  In this area of correction of one another this is very true.  Sometimes the tone of our voice, or the words we use to express ourselves can un-do our good intentions and our sincere love for the person.  In our human condition sometimes we fail to express well enough the hope we have for them, the love we have for them, and the confidence that they can change.

Jesus came to give us life, and life in its fullness.  This may mean that we be active agents of conversion and reconciliation in the lives of others.  We cannot sit idly by and think, “Someone else will do it.”, or “It’s not MY responsibility”.  Through our words of correction Jesus wants to extend new life, the fullness of life to other.  His grace and power can build on our love and our own experience to find the words to reach out and make that difference, helping someone to choose – not our way, but the way of the Lord.  On our own pilgrimage we can recognize that people have reached out to us and found just the right words and just the right time that made a difference in our lives.  In faithfulness to the Lord we must do the same.  Otherwise, indeed, “evil will prosper”.

Bogdan Jański found himself in a time and place where he could not remain silent.  He actively worked to bring disillusioned Poles (because of the loss of their nation to the Tsarist Russian invasion) back to the grace of God.  God had not forgotten them, or ‘turned his back’ on them.  He was there waiting for them!  His speaking up, and acting, brought many to the Lord, to the Church, and to our Congregation.

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