May 20, 2024

The gospel of Matthew underlines two features of synodality, that of fraternal correction as a way to move forward and unity as a way to live.
Fraternal correction is clear in the lines of Jesus. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.” (Matthew 18:15) Unity must be founded in Jesus. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
True enough, we cannot strip fraternal correction in the synodality of the church. We need it to improve and grow. The late Bishop Francisco Claver underlined the growth areas of the church: liturgical, developmental, and liberational. I consider fraternal correction as a face of the liberational.
To correct an erring brother or sister is a part of liberational growth because in correction that we are liberated from errors or mistakes.
The gospel of Matthew underlines fraternal correction coupled with utmost prudence, dialogue that does not impose, and eventually reconciliation that comes from justice.
In our relationship, there will always be misunderstanding, conflict, misgiving, and bitterness that can even lead to hatred and anger. This is a reality.
If we are not confronted with these predicaments of life, then we are living in illusion or we are dreaming. We have to admit the reality but we don’t end just admitting but seeing with the eyes of Jesus in order to become a part of the solution. Remaining in the level of these means we will not enjoy life. We will not see the beauty of living. We will not grow. We will never experience peace.
There is a need to overcome the personal and social sins through fraternal correction. There is a need to help one another in the sanctification of work and life. Otherwise, we sin too and we call it sin of omission i.e. our failure to correct an obvious error.
Jesus however exhorted his apostles and surely, he has the same appeal today: to be prudent in correcting; to dialogue to mean our capacity to listen and talk with honesty and humility; and to be reconciled and walk together with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In one of the seminars on fraternal correction, Fr. Mel asked the participants, “Sino kadakayo ti ada sagamaysa nga kalabana?” Many raised their hands.
He went on asking, “Sino kadakayo ti mejo adu kalabana?” Some raised their hands. He asked them again, “Sino kadakayo ti kalabana amin?” Then four people raised their hands.
Finally, he asked, “Sino kadakayo ti awan kalabana?” Everybody was silent. Suddenly a voice from the back was heard, “Shak awan ti kalabanko,pader!” Fr. Mel was speechless but he managed to ask, “Nanang, dakayo awan kalabanyu, adipay santa kayo ngarud?”
Maria responded, “Tao ak met,apo padi.” Fr. Mel wants an answer and he asked, “Nanang, kasanu ngarud nga awantikalabanyukettao kayo met gayam?” Maria smartly said, “Amum apo padi, 110 titawenkon. Natayen amin ngakalabanko!”
There are ways to relate and react to situations. We can despise our fellow. Despising is not a fraternal correction. It is hypocrisy because one uses his life and his standards to ventilate his judgment.
When one uses his standards and philosophy to gauge morality, then he is not actually correcting an erroneous person. The mode and basis of correction must be the commandment of God, the gospel values of Jesus, and the teachings of the church.
It is easy to criticize others but not ourselves. Criticizing is defined as indicating the faults of someone in a very disapproving way. Criticizing, therefore, is not fraternal correction. When we criticize in order to put down people, to shame, insult, embarrass, or to prove oneself is better is not fraternal correction.
We ask then ourselves today, “What is my manner of relating or reacting to errors? Despising? Criticizing? Or authentic fraternal correction? What is my motivation to correct? (End of part 2)
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