Meditation of the Apostolic Nuncio, Apostolic Nunciature, New Delhi, Sunday 6 September 2020

First Reading: Ezekiel 33: 7-9
Second Reading: Romans 13: 8-10
Gospel: Mathew 18: 15-20

The Gospel this Sunday, taken from Matthew, Chapter 18, presents the theme of brotherly correction within the community of believers: that is, how I must correct another Christian when he does what is not good. Our Lord admonishes us not to overlook one another’s faults, yet not so as seeking for matter of blame, but watching what you may amend. For our rebuke should be in love, not eager to wound, but anxious to amend. If you pass it by, you are become worse than he. He by doing you a wrong hath done himself a great hurt; you slight your brother’s wound, and are more to blame for your silence than he for his ill words.

For often we wrongly shun to teach and admonish, or to rebuke and check the wicked, either because the task is irksome, or because we would escape their enmity, lest they should harm or obstruct us. But if any one spares reproof of evil doers, because he seeks fitter occasion, or fears to make them worse, or that they may be an impediment to the good and pious living of other weak ones, or may grieve them, or turn them from the faith; herein there is seen no considerations of covetousness, but the prudence of charity.

Jesus teaches us that, should my Christian brother commit a sin against me, offend me, I must be charitable toward him and, first of all, speak with him personally, explain to him what he said or did that was wrong. What if the brother doesn’t listen to me? Jesus proposes a progressive intervention: first, return and speak to him with two or three other people, so he may be more aware of his error; if, despite this, he does not accept the admonition, the community must be told; and should he also refuse to listen to the community, he must be made aware of the rift and estrangement that he himself has caused, weakening the communion with his brothers in the faith.

It is to be noted, that one while the Lord brings the offender to him whom he has offended; as when He says, “If thou remember that thy brother has ought against thee, go, be reconciled to thy brother” other whiles He bids him that has suffered the wrong to forgive his neighbour; as where he says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”. Here He has devised yet another method, for He brings him who has been grieved to him that grieved him, and therefore says, “If thy brother sin against thee” for because he that did the wrong would not readily come to make amends, because of his shame, He draws to him, him that has suffered the wrong; and not only draws him there, but with the very purpose of correcting what was done amiss; whence He says, “Go and tell him his fault.”

    And He says not, accuse him, nor, chide with him, nor, demand redress, but, “Tell him of his fault” that is, remind him of his sin, tell him what things you have suffered from him. For he is held down by anger or by shame, stupefied as one in a deep slumber. Go to him who is in a disease.