THE SERVANT GENERAL
Today’s reading: Luke 17:1-6
In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches us two concrete ways
by which we are to love one another. These are fraternal correction
As an act of love, we are to correct one another. “If
your brother sins, rebuke him” (Lk 17:3b). Sin is not
of God. Serious sin breaks our relationship with God, and
endangers our immortal soul. If we truly love our brethren,
we should not want them remaining in a state of sin. As such,
if we have the opportunity, we do fraternal correction. We
point out, in a respectful way, where they have gone astray.
We hope that by doing so, they will repent and turn back to
Oftentimes we are reluctant to correct others. This might
be due to various reasons: not knowing how to, not wanting
to hurt the other, being afraid, not wanting the bother, not
wanting to strain our fraternal relationship. But if we have
the opportunity to correct, not doing so is a failure in love.
We would then fall short of our fundamental identity as a
Christian, and that is one who loves.
We are indeed our brother’s keeper. This is especially
the case for those who are servant leaders. They have taken
on the very place of Christ. Jesus rebukes and corrects, out
of love. In fact, he can be quite stern. He tells those who
sin to cut off what causes them to sin (Mt 18:8-9). If we
love as Jesus loves, then we must correct our brethren when
When we correct a sinner, the hopeful outcome is that they
repent. Then, “if he repents, forgive him.” (Lk
17:3c). This presumes a situation where the brother has sinned
against us (Mt 18:15). Whatever sin one has committed against
us, when he repents, then we are to forgive. Again, this is
not only the way of God, it is the way of true brotherly love.
Repentance brings restoration. Repentance is the move of the
sinner to bring restoration, while forgiveness is the response
of the one sinned against. Brought together, it restores fraternal
love, unity and peace.
Now oftentimes forgiving can be challenging. We have been
hurt, so can we just let go? This is especially so if the
sinner is a recidivist. But Jesus says, “And if he wrongs
you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times
saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”
(Lk 17:4). Seven times in one day! He probably is not at all
serious in repenting. But the sinner’s task is to repent,
while ours is to forgive. We do our part, even if he has not
really done his.
Consider our own sins against the Lord. Consider how many
times you confess the same sins over and over again. Should
the Lord then no longer forgive you?
Family life and community life are challenging environments
where we will be put to the test often. There will always
be family and community members, including ourselves, who
will do wrong and hurt others. We face these challenges with
two weapons of righteousness--correction and forgiveness.