In the Catholic Church, like other liturgical communities, we have set readings for the entire year for each Sunday that follow the seasons of the church calendar and certain themes throughout the year.
Therefore, a priest or deacon is to prepare his homily on the readings and not on his own agenda or topic. Therefore a “Homily” and not necessarily a “Sermon.”
Over the next three Sundays in the Catholic Church, the three scripture readings (one of the Old Testament, an Epistle from the New Testament and the Gospel) are concerned on how the Body of Christ here on earth —the Church — deals with each other, particularly in addressing conflicts and even manifested injustices committed against someone or even the body of the Church.
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus reminds the apostles that there is a basic framework to address a wrong committed by one member to another. Matthew Chapter 18:15-20 gives practical and divine understanding of how to handle the issue: It is to be done between the two persons that have issues with one another or a correction that needs to be made should be entered first by one-on-one discussion, that Jesus states must begin from charity for the other and a desire to want that person in eternity with you.
That first step taught by Jesus is very much needed today, where we find it so easy to bring our issues with another person into social media, but sometimes never address the issue with the actual person we have a problem with. This even happens much too often in the Church. Jesus states first to ask yourself what your intention is in dealing with the issue, is it really to bring resolution and is it done from charity.
That will cause some "soul searching," but hopefully purifies the intention. Wow, if this would be done more often, how quickly and how charitable issues could be resolved in the Church and the greater society.
In the era of social media, we can quickly unleash verbiage that is very hard to retract or clarify, once it is unleashed not only to the person, but to thousands in a click of a button.
More than likely, the issue can be resolved in this first step if we risk talking to people face to face and enter the discussion in charity and a desire to spend eternity with the person. If that fails, then bring others into the situation and discussion and then if necessary, bring the Church into it or in the secular world the courts.
All of this requires humility and patience and an intention to resolve the issue and help another person to see their actions or inaction having caused a problem or hurt to someone or a portion of the community. Yet, to make the person a better person.
Again, this seems more important in our advanced society today, where unfortunately it seems easier to hash out conflicts between persons in the arena of the worldwide net, instead of person to person or heart to heart.
The way that Jesus advocates requires fostering of virtues and a heart that desires to love deeper with the aid of not only virtue, but grace.
The Rev. Msgr. Michael L. Farmer is a native of Prattville and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Mobile in 1995 . Prior to his appointment as pastor of St. Michael Parish, he was Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mobile.