Home » Opinion » Word Alive » Fraternal correction

Fraternal correction

By: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

ONE woman told another: “My neighbor is always criticizing her husband. But look at me. My husband is irresponsible, lazy and a coward; but have I ever said anything bad about him?” (Look who’s talking!).

In the gospel of this 23rd Sunday, Jesus says, “If your brother (or sister) sins against you, go and show him his fault” (Mt 18,15) and not to talk behind his back, as that wife in the story did.

* * *

Many of us have the notion that loving someone means not disagreeing always when needed. For instance, a friend was seen often in the company of a woman who was not his wife. His friends gossiped, talked, even joked about the relationship. Poor guy, his marriage broke up. All the friends could say was, “I could see it coming,” but why did they not budge a finger to call his attention!

* * *

True love and friendship also means criticizing positively or disagreeing when a loved one goes astray. Sometimes that’s the best service you can do to a person you love.

Jesus says in today’s gospel that part of love is to correct the faults of others.

* * *

When we have to correct people, however, it should not be harsh, but should be done gently in the spirit of charity and concern. As the writer Frank Clark puts it, “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”

* * *

Just as too much water destroys a plant so does too much negative criticism destroys a person’s growth. I know of strict parents who keep on scolding and criticizing their children. The kids grew up shy, lacking self-esteem, and confidence.

* * *

It’s not easy to speak out. But it is usually better to risk having a friction and solve a problem, rather than allow it to fester till it explodes.

* * *

ASK YOURSELF: When I see a relative, a friend or co-worker going astray, do I try to call his or her attention, as the Lord tells us? And when you’re corrected, do you get angry? Or would you rather reflect that there may be some truth and therefore, seek to reform?

Because we are all human having faults and frailties, fraternal correction will always be necessary.

* * *

LAFF ONE ANOTHER. Former President Ramos once told Erap, the Vice President then, how hard it is to be the head of the country: “No matter how hard I try, people are not contented. Always criticizing!” VP Erap said, “I can see that, sir. That’s why I don’t envy your shoes.” (He meant: “I don’t want to be in your shoes”).

* * *

An officer kept complaining about perennial lack of funds. The President chided him: “Puro ka na lang reklamo. I’m tired of your reclamations.”

* * *

SUPPORT SEMINARIANS. Nothing is more noble than supporting priestly vocations. Please help our poor, deserving seminarians in their financial needs.

For inquiries, e-mail me at belsvd@gmail.com.

comments