As immediate, remote, and anonymous communication has become so easy to do in our culture, something has shifted in us for the worse. Just read the comments on many Catholic blogs. Some people will write hurtful things they would never say to a person out loud. This behavior has gotten so bad that “liturgy shaming” is now a common term. In admonishing the sinner, an act meant to be a spiritual work of mercy, we’ve become much less merciful ourselves.
Admonishing sinners is easy, but doing it the way Jesus tells us is hard. The first challenge is to avoid the presumption or anonymity of writing an email, making a snarky comment on Facebook, or sending that voicemail or letter to the person’s supervisor. Instead, be humble and courageous enough to have a face-to-face conversation with the person, done with genuine love.
That last point is key because notice what Jesus says to do if the person refuses to change: treat them as you would a Gentile or tax collector. And how did Jesus treat these people? With love, kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, patience, and grace. The only person we can truly change is ourselves. So how will we become more forgiving, loving, and joyful with all our sisters and brothers?