The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Being our brothers keeper

I was recently told a story about a guy who was tortured spiritually from being privy to information about a relative. It turns out that his relative, being married, was having an affair with another woman. This matter had bothered him so much that he had almost allowed it to break up his relationship with his relative. Speaking with another friend about what he should do (whether he should tell him that he knows, and that it is wrong), his friend tells him that he must leave it to God, that the friend will reap what he sowed. Is this what the Bible teaches us?

Have you ever known of a wrong that someone is doing and you put a blind eye to it because you feel that it is not your business or better yet you wish the worst for that person, especially if they are someone you do not get along with? The Church teaches us that we are saved by faith and works. It would be considered a work to address this immoral act to that person in order to keep them from sinning.

Our Protestant brothers and sisters refer to their relationship with Jesus as a personal one. I too have relationship with Jesus, but I share Him with everyone attached to the body of Christ. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain and Moses and Elijah appeared what did Peter say?; “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Mt. 17:4. He was happy to be there, but did not want to leave even though there was much work to be done. We can not contain Jesus for ourselves but rather spread his word to others and be an example of Him. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we say yes to Him completely and try to live our lives as He did. Every time someone looks at us they should be able to see Jesus and not you any longer. This also means that we must do away with our selfish ways and think more of others than self.

In the readings for the upcoming weekend 3rd/4th Sept 2011 we are told about the need to save someone from death by informing them of their wrong doings. Now before we get all excited we must be reminded that it must be done with respect for that person. I am reminded by a talk that a New York priest gave on confession, where he explains that breaking the commandment "though shall not kill" does not just mean physical death, but rather we also kill with our words. So before you say that you have never ever broken that commandment ask yourself if you have ever engaged in character defamation through gossiping or hurt someone with angry words?

Love is the fulfillment of the law! How can you say you love Jesus but despise neighbor? If you love your neighbor you will do what is right by that person in pointing out their wicked ways with reverence. You absolutely do not go about it by bringing it up in public of amongst others as if to rub salt in the wound. So is your justification in handling the situation in this manner that you've told the truth? Have you stopped to think that maybe you may have hurt that person? By telling an unkind truth you demonstrated many of the deadly sins in your actions.

As a Christian and a member of the body of Christ, we should fear for the souls of our lost brethren. If ever your heart feels heavy and you feel as though your friend is doing wrong in the eyes of Jesus then we have a responsibility to reach out to that person. For if one dies in a state of mortal sin the soul is lost forever. Our God is a God of justice and mercy. He came to save us all. You have accepted responsibility to be your brothers keeper as a Christian. Let's stop tearing the other person down but rather bring them back to the Father.

Jesus gives us a three step formula in bringing people back to the body of Christ and not allow them to be like lost sheep, for if "you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood." Ezekiel 33:8.

1. “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. Mt 18:15. Go to that person and respectfully tell them of the path that they are on so that they can correct their wrongdoing. This should be done in private between the two of you. It is important that we stay away from breaking the commandment of killing as we are prune to gossip that have lead to many people committing suicide. Many people take this route when they are forced in the corner with rumors that were spread about them, truth or not.

2. "If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses." Mt 18:16. Through stubbornness, if one on one does not work then Jesus tells us to take one of two more persons with you. More than one opinion on the matter can make a big difference, but select those you take with you wisely. They should be someone who wants to help bring that person back into the fold and not wanting to gather information for their own purpose.

3. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church." Mt 18:17. To reach to this stage truly says that you have done all you can to reach that person and must now get up in the front of the entire Church and expose him/her. Absolutely not, you do no such thing!!! Seek spiritual guidance and help from your Priest in regards to the situation. As a Christian it is our duty to assist others in staying on the right path, but at times we require the help of a trained professional.

So you tried everything including going to the Church and nothing, now what do you do? Let's look at what Jesus says we are to do. "If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." Mt 18:17. Who were the Gentiles and the tax collectors? They were considered the outsiders, but this does not mean that we turn our backs on them, for Jesus came to save us all. He never leaves us not matter what we do. It is we who pushes ourselves away from Him.

We are to love just as Jesus loved, even to those who feel as though they do not need your help or have turned their back on you. We all make up the body of Christ,so when one part of the body is injured we should do our part to ensure that it is taken care of. There is no place within the body of Christ for selfish ways; we are to be our brothers keeper.

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