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Faith for Others
Monday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
He said to his disciples, “Causes of falling are sure to come, but alas for the one through whom they occur! It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones. Keep watch on yourselves! If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I am sorry,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me a heart like yours that is profoundly concerned for the salvation of souls.
- Realism: Jesus said to his disciples, “Causes of falling are sure to come…” He reminds us that the reality of our human nature is often weak. We shouldn’t be surprised that we fail and fall. But the great warning in this is how our sinfulness affects others. We do not live in a bubble, isolated and disconnected from other people. Our choices have consequences of a social nature. Jesus warns, “Alas for the one through whom they occur!” Not only do we have a responsibility for our own spiritual and moral well-being and our salvation, but for those of others. Our testimony, our decisions, and our actions have an impact for good or bad. How often do we reflect on our influence on the salvific well-being of others?
- My Brother’s Keeper: Jesus also suggests that we play a role in rebuking and forgiving. This is a difficult thing to do in our secular culture. It is easy to harp on someone to do the dishes or pick up their dirty socks. But when it comes to grave matters of the soul, why do we shy away? Discernment is needed to know when and how to approach our brothers and sisters in a spirit of mercy, love, and genuine concern for their salvation. Purification of our own hearts is also necessary so as to not live a false moral righteousness. We must be aware that we too are in need of conversion of heart. Only then, with humility and prudence, are we prepared to approach someone to rebuke and forgive.
- “Increase Our Faith”: After exhorting his apostles to rebuke and forgive, they asked for an increase of faith. Perhaps they were struggling to believe that they would be able to forgive time after time! Is that not what Christ does for us in the confessional, time after time? As Christ does for us, we too have that similar power, as part of our baptismal grace of participating in his priestly, prophetic, and kingly ministry. We can bind a person in unforgiveness or release them. Let us ask for faith to recognize the power we hold over others by our testimony, in our rebuking and correcting, and in our forgiving, and ask for the grace to use that power in Jesus’ name and with his heart.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant that I may truly grow in my zeal and love for the salvation of souls. Help me to be attentive to how I can positively influence others to live a good life and draw near to you. Help me in the areas of my life where I need to be courageous and merciful to help others on this path, and in the areas where I need to forgive.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on how my testimony influences others.
For Further Reflection: Ezekiel 33 and Fraternal Correction by Dr. Brant Pitre and How to Correct Someone in Sin by Fr. Mark Mary.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”
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