Saturday, September 06, 2008

Am I my brother's keeper?

Last night's group meeting was well attended, and several thoughtful discussions ensued about Sunday readings. It's a shame that time constraints forced these discussions to be cut short, so I've decided to open up the discussion here for anyone who wants to jump in.

Also, I'm open to any correction on my characterization of the discussion.

The first discussion centered about the first reading with Ezekiel 33:7-9. It was questioned whether the fraternal correction applied merely to the prophet, or whether the command applied to all the faithful. Continuing on to the first part of the Gospel reading, Matthew 18:15-20, there is a procedure given, the steps to be made for brotherly correction.

Most people voiced the opinion that this cannot be done every time, that prudence is required in the implementation. Given that I've done an independent study on St Thomas Aquinas centering about the virtue of prudence, I can confidently declare that prudence is NOT an excuse for doing nothing (most modern speakers treat it as if it is). Rather, prudence is about making the right choice as a practical matter in a given situation and it is a reasoned choice involving the will. It short, it is about choosing the right action.

Quite a few people mentioned that such fraternal confrontation would be tantamount to a confrontation, likely resulting in a loss of friendship. I'm not unsympathetic to this thinking, but I've countered, "what sort of friend are you, to let someone's immortal life, their immortal soul, to be placed in jeopardy." I didn't suggest it then, but I'll bring it up now: would you allow a drunk friend to get in his car and drive home? This sort of urgency doesn't seem to exist when dealing with spiritual matters. However, I understand that we live in a culture that is hostile to such thinking.

Rounding this out with the second reading from St Paul's letter to the Romans (13:8-10) we find that love is the fulfillment of the law. Is it possible to love your brother and allow him to come to harm?

I'm not claiming that I've an answer to how we should correct our brothers and sisters, but I am hoping to provoke a discussion as insightful as the one last night. I look forward to reading your replies.



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