Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.
You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Psalm 19:7-9, 14
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In Leviticus, we read that holiness involves many ‘shall nots’: stealing, defrauding, lying, cheating, slandering, hating family, being vindictive, bearing grudges to name a few. These things do not surprise us. No saint did these things unless it was before their conversion. Then there is one ‘shall’ included in the list: ‘you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself’.
That last one is a little difficult for us today. We are finding that there is a strong cultural trend, or pressure to go along with the modern day sins. A few that come quickly to mind are abortion, cohabitation, and homosexual unions. How difficult it is for anyone to reprove another in these days of tolerance. Yet, reproving others for the sake of their immortal soul is an aspect of holiness. If no one tells a person that they are hurting themselves doing something immoral, they will continue to do it possibly to the loss of their souls. How is that loving our neighbor? Being afraid of an angry reaction from someone is enough to tailor our words carefully so as to communicate love and concern, but it does not excuse us from saying the thing that needs saying.
Jesus tells us that the punishment for failing to do what is necessary for a person’s good when we see it is enough to earn us a place with the demons for eternity. That is extremely frightening! How many grandparents and parents say nothing when their children live with a partner without benefit of marriage because they are afraid they will be rejected for it. Yet they allow their precious child to continue in mortal sin unrepentant. Such a thing is a matter of misplaced priorities and ultimately selfish. How many enable a woman to kill the child in her womb, afraid that they will be persecuted for standing up against abortion? How many are afraid that they will seem judgmental or will hurt the feelings of the same-sex attracted by calling homosexual activity sinful? In our day, holiness involves reproving others and speaking to their consciences while there is time to help them repent.
Most good people will hand the thirsty a drink, provide a bite of food, donate clothing, or visit the sick and imprisoned. That is not hard. But when a friend or family member is addicted to pornography, overeating and drinking into morbid obesity, sleeping around, or bound by any other deadly sin, it takes a lot of courage to go to them and tell them seriously that they are hurting themselves. Maybe you will get an angry defensive response, but you will not incur guilt. And you may just be able to get them to hear you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I want to be counted as one of your sheep that enters into eternal life. Show me how I can be of service to the poor and needy. In these times, give me the courage and the wise words to reprove anyone who needs it so that they will receive correction and realize that you want them to be with you in eternity too. Grant the grace of conversion and conviction to those in sin so they may see their errors and repent. Amen