We have seen that the way of discipleship for a Christian is to accept one’s own cross, knowing that one is not alone but is with Jesus in carrying it, as in a common journey of self-giving intended for all of Jesus’ followers. The witness of the saints shows us that it is possible to persevere in bearing one’s cross with love, since sacrifice for the good of the loved one is the test of true love. If we go over the lives of our patron saints, we can perceive the opportunities and risks they undertook to serve the people of God despite possible taunts and misjudgments. When there is an opportunity to help reform an evil or misguided person, it becomes an occasion to express one’s love through respectful reminders of God’s law to an erring neighbor. “Let this be the only debt on one to another: Love. The one who loves his or her neighbor fulfilled the Law. Love cannot do the neighbor any harm; so love fulfills the whole Law” (Rom 13:8,10).
Jesus already told us the way of charity towards an erring neighbor, that is, to first tell him/her directly of the error committed, then to seek progressive intervention if the neighbor refuses to accept the admonition. “Go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Mt 18:15). One must also be careful to avoid insult and unnecessary humiliation by being discreet in the choice of words. The purpose is to help the person realize the wrong he has done, and that the offense committed affects not only one, but many people, not to say the family, the neighborhood and the community. At the same time, we too are conscious that no one is perfect—even the one reprimanding is a sinner. This awareness reminds us that all human beings are subject to mistakes, and at one time or another need someone to point out the right way to them. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of food or drink; it is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and if you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be praised by people. Let us look, then, for what strengthens peace and makes us better” (Rom 14:17-19). Let us be grateful for all those in authority or with charitable concern who never gave up in reaching out to guide a fellow human being back to the track of righteous living and loving.