Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father’s Day and the Faith Family

On this Father’s Day, I pray God’s blessings on all fathers.  Some of the men in the parental role may be faced with uneasy situations when the world around them is celebrating the gift of fatherhood. It could be due to hurting family relationships where there have been break ups, infidelity and incompatibility.  Alienation from the family where one is meant to belong is not desirable.  Ways of reconciling is the first thought that preoccupies anyone genuinely hurt.  Taking life seriously, one would wait for avenues of reconciliation to be exhausted before parting.  Matthew in his Gospel shows that this is true of the discipline in the Church at large.

Church gatherings of the Gospel times were small and could be equated to our parish Church. Our parish is our faith family.  With the parish schools, ministries to the lonely, care for the elderly, Sacramental celebrations, and Eucharistic gatherings, the faith family of the parish work on being a family together just as any good family would do.  Therefore, any member of the Church not complying with the expectation of the Church at large is a matter to be addressed.  How do we do it?  In the early Church the first step was a one on one approach where the dignity of the offending person was kept intact while attempting to reconcile with him.  If it did not work a group of people would work together with him or her to win the offender back.  Once again, notice that confidentiality was upheld to protect the dignity of the offender and keep it intact.  If the offender was still too stubborn for any conversion, as a last resort, he or she was excluded from the faith family, the Church.

Just as in the early Church, in our times too, scandalous behaviour of the members are to be corrected.  This may happen in moral or ethical matters.  Priests, bishops and the pope himself could be initiating correctional activities.  It is not only the ordinary lay members of the Church who can be scandalous and needing correction, the bishops and priests also could be in need of correction.  In any such cases the Church has to undertake a process of winning back the person who is causing hurt and disunity.  But in every process, it is important to respect the dignity of the offender.  In our parish, let us keep working on being a good faith family.  Unfortunately, the Church family will have to exclude those who are unwilling to be converted to be an integral part of the Body of Christ.