Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reflection for the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Rebuke and Forgive

“If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” This is what Jesus tells His disciples (and that includes us) in today's Gospel. Let's look closely at both parts of this command.

First, Jesus tells us to rebuke people when they sin. This might seem a bit harsh to those of us who live in a culture that preaches toleration and acceptance, but we have to remember that we don't have to tolerate sin, and we certainly shouldn't accept it. The Greek word for “rebuke” is epitimaō, and it literally means to point out a correct value on something. In other words, when we rebuke someone, we call a sin a sin. We tell it like it is, and we warn the person that he or she is on the wrong path.

In order to follow Jesus' command here, we must acknowledge the objective moral law. Certain actions are right, and certain actions are wrong, and that's God's truth. Further, when we rebuke people according to the moral law and in the spirit Jesus intends, we are really acting with love. Love wants the best for another person and acts in order to help achieve that best. Sin is never what's best for another person, and love recognizes that and says so.

The second part of Jesus' command is about forgiveness. When someone repents (i.e., has a change of mind and heart), we are to forgive that person. After all, this is exactly what God does for us, and we are to imitate him. Even if the person sins and repents seven times a day, we are to keep right on forgiving. We would want the same for ourselves.

Both halves of this command are challenging, but they are both necessary for the spiritual good of ourselves and those around us. But don't worry; God gives us grace to both rebuke and forgive if only we ask Him.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Tuesday – Temperately, Justly, and Devoutly

We live in a challenging world. Surrounded by sin and death on every side, we can easily lose sight of who we are and how we are to act. So St. Paul, in his wonderful, succinct way, reminds us of how we must live in Christ: “temperately, justly, and devoutly.”

When we live temperately, we act with moderation. We are prudent people, who think before we speak or act and who consider the consequences of our words and behavior.

When we live justly, we try to do the right thing in every circumstance, according to God's moral law. We are mindful of other people and their rights and dignity, and we remember our own dignity and value as God's beloved children.

When we live devoutly, we stay as close as we can to God. We pray, we read Scripture, we receive the sacraments, and we strive to imitate our Lord in all that we do. We put God at the very center of our lives and focus our attention on Him continually.

Temperately, justly, and devoutly... If we strive to live in this way, we will be much better able to navigate the crazy world in which we live.

Wednesday – Cleansing the Temple

Many people these days like to think of Jesus as a quiet, gentle, tolerant person who didn't like to give offense to anyone. But is that really how the Gospels depict Jesus? Or do people tend to shape Him as they would like Him to be?

Today's Gospel reveals a side of Jesus that people don't always like to think about. Jesus could be tough. He got angry and fed up with sin and irreverence, and He acted accordingly.

People were misusing the Temple. Instead of a sanctuary of prayer and God's dwelling place on earth, the Temple had become a busy marketplace for animal dealers and moneychangers. And Jesus wasn't about to tolerate it for one more minute. He made a whip out of cords and drove the merchants out of the Temple, overturning their tables and telling them in no uncertain terms to take their business elsewhere.

This is indeed another side of Jesus, and if it makes us a little uncomfortable, it's supposed to. Jesus isn't going to pat us on the head and excuse our bad behavior. He forgives us, but He also demands that we change our ways, boot sin out of our lives, and clean up our acts. He doesn't hesitate to offend us in order to save us. He loves us that much.

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