Wait for It ... Wait for It ...Wait for It ... There It Is
By Father John Slampak, STL

The musical team of Gilbert and Sullivan were doing very well together, until they bought a theater.

Sullivan decided to have the theater re-carpeted. So he bought the carpet, but Gilbert intercepted the bill. When Gilbert got the bill, he was very angry and hit the ceiling. He took Sullivan to court because he felt that as long as Sullivan had ordered the carpet without consulting him, he should not have to pay for it. It all wound up in a great lawsuit.

There was so much anger that neither one of those men spoke again as long as they lived.

When Sullivan wrote the music, he sent it by messenger to Gilbert. Gilbert would pen the words and send it by messenger back to Sullivan.

When they would have their wonderful performances, they would each come from opposite ends of the stage to take their bows, but they never looked at each other.

They never said a word to each other again, as long as they lived.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

This not-talking happens quite often in families when relationships go the wrong way. It doesn’t happen all at once but when it does, it must be faced.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

It’s not easy to know how you’re supposed to go about it, what you’re supposed to say and how you are to say it. God seems to make it very clear it is one of our responsibilities to each other.

The prophet Ezekiel was told that if he saw someone going astray and he doesn’t do anything to help him or her to get back on the right path, he bears some of the responsibility.

When you put this on the world stage it gets especially complicated. During the past few weeks, months, days now, we have been informed of the thinking on many political and moral issues facing our country and the world. Those issues are being affected by — the media (how news is presented) — a divided world / in need of justice / peace / negotiation / healing / no more war.

What kind of correction is being brought about? Are we within the bounds of what God is asking us to do?

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

Why is this so hard to do at the level of our families, the workplace, schools and the Church? The Lord tells you to go to the person who wronged you and try to settle the issue, to try to bring about reconciliation and healing. And what happens most often? You tell every single person except the person you should tell!

And the people you tell, tell others, who tell others, who tell others down the line, caught in the dome of lies each time the story gets told. It gets a little more exaggerated, with the offense looking worse and worse. Usually the last person to find out is the one, and only one, who should have known in the first place.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

Some, those who gossip, ask how serious a sin is gossiping? It poisons families, neighborhoods, and even faith communities. It can be a weapon of mass destruction and is even faster on the Internet blogs.

In the end, though, there is one litmus test for gauging how or if you should correct someone, how you are to help someone stay on the right path. That way, that test, is illuminated by the beautiful words of St. Paul to the Romans: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another.”