In recovery, we find common ground and reliance upon God and each other because of the spiritual near-death experiences we’ve had. Our greatest defense against addiction and compulsive behaviors is the act of reaching our hand out to newcomers and those still struggling. “It works when other activities fail” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 89).
Similarly, we enter the Church in need of salvation and take refuge in a common vessel. Our solution is found in the grace offered by Jesus Christ. We engage him through Sacred Scripture, the sacraments of the Church, and when we extend help to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. We gather today in the midst of God who grants us the gifts of faith, recovery, and life.
This Sunday’s Gospel Reading captures Jesus teaching his disciples about fraternal correction, of which we may have been on the receiving end prior to getting into the rooms of recovery. But first, Jesus reminds them (and us) of how far our Creator is willing to go in His pursuit of us (Mt. 18:12-14):
If a man has a hundred sheep
and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you,
he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way,
it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.
Jesus then details specific actions to take in order to help a lost brother or sister:
“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.
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.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
Having been saved by great peril, let us not be ashamed to recall our dark past to empathize and accompany those on the margins. At the same time, we ought to be humble and willing enough to recognize that God is the only one capable of offering salvation. We could not manage our own lives and we certainly cannot manage the lives of others. However, God can, and will, if He is sought.
- Recall and share about your experience of being the one lost sheep who God went off to find.
- What benefits have you experienced as a result of supporting others in recovery?
- What lessons do you take away from Jesus’ remarks about fraternal correction?
Daily Mass Readings
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20