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Bishop's Homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 10, 2023

[Immaculate Conception Church, Ewa; St. Pius X Church, Honolulu; St. Elizabeth Church, Aiea (with installation of pastors)]

Mind your own business!

This is not something that any one of us would like to hear from someone else.  It could mean that we are violating some boundaries, overstepping our bounds, and being busybodies, concerning ourselves with things that should not concern us or that we really know very little about.  However, it could be someone being naturally defensive if we tell them something they need to hear, but which they do not like.

Alcoholism can be a huge problem that wreaks havoc not only with the health and welfare of the person who is drinking, but also with that person’s family, employment and other relationships.  Anyone who has been involved in a intervention with an alcoholic to try to get them to choose to seek help for their addiction is probably going to be told, “Mind your own business!”  In this case, it is not a question of someone overstepping their bounds, but of doing something good and life-giving for another human being, even though it may be initially rejected.  But loving persistence is needed in such an intervention, not taking the immediate rebuff as the final word on the matter.  We can say, “It’s none of my business,” when we see another ruining his own and others’ lives by excessive drinking, but that would not be paying the debt we own to love one another.  Sometimes there is tough love that will at first be rejected, but that ultimately could help a person.

Our Scriptures today make it clear that this kind of fraternal correction – done in the right way and with the right motives – is required of us.  It is a debt of love we owe one another.

If we see a young person going astray, keeping bad company, or living a lifestyle that is ultimately self-destructive, is it loving to simply mind our own business and let that young person go his or her merry way down the path of destruction?  Of course, we will probably get pushback, and it may be unpleasant for both the young person and the one who lovingly tries to set him on the right path.  But what hope is there for that young person unless someone intervenes and shows the person that there will be greater rewards in doing the right thing and living the right way.

Can you imagine a parent saying to a child, “If you don’t feel like doing your homework, it’s OK.  If you choose to fail in school, that is entirely up to you.”  No, parents have a duty, not to nag or push their children beyond reasonable limits, but to challenge them to realize that not everything that is good for us is something that is necessarily pleasant.

Jesus teaches us the proper way to correct someone who is going astray.  We should be respectful of the person, not talking behind the person’s back, but going directly to him with a concern.  It that does not work, then maybe one other person can help.  If that does not work, then maybe others can prevail upon the one going astray.  In the end, it is the person who has to make the choice, but we do owe each other the debt of loving one another.  Sometimes that means getting involved in a way that is not necessarily appreciated.

Our involvement with the political realm is also important, because our laws are meant to express our values.  If they violate the value of life, the value of the dignity of each person, we need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Writing or speaking to our legislators and voting are activities that could make a difference, but that we often shun, thinking it is not my business.

Jesus came into the world to call us to repentance, to put truth where people are living a lie, to put love where there is hatred or indifference.  As members of the Body of the risen Christ, we are called to the same mission.  We have been given so much love.  We have been saved from so many sins.  It is now our turn to reach out to others – whether convenient or inconvenient – to do the hard work of opening the way for love to take root and to rule every heart and every community.