Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

Sunday Gospel Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

Sunday Gospel Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

In this Sunday's gospel we are told, "If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him."I can imagine what our parish would be like if we all did that literally. First we would have a host of busybodies until in the end, nobody would be listening or talking to anyone. But obviously it means that we act with compassion and love, not just taking delight in putting other people right. We know from experience that deliberately facing a person with their wrongdoing or wrong inclinations can be the worst way of trying to win them over – and most especially from within the family. If they know they are loved by us, sincerely loved, then our lives will bear witness to the goodness of God and the holiness of his commandments more than our saying anything.

So often in bringing up children, parents are torn between the fear of not showing their children the importance of religious practice and driving them away from the Church by insisting too much. If the children know they are loved and at the same time realise what is important to their parents, this will be far more effective than laying down the law.You don't have to do use words to convey the holiness and love of God.

Our love and compassion must be sincere and not be for any other motive beyond love in itself.As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, "Charity cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak."

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