A Reading from the Gospel According to Matthew (18:15-20)
Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Opening Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call our Father, bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance which you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
Encountering Christ: Jesus does not foresee a life full of harmony and companionship, but acknowledges the need for forgiveness, patience and humility. Let us pray that we may live in a way that forgives freely and repents readily.
Matthew describes a ‘safety net’, a bottom line, and an emergency drill. I can give thanks if life is usually less hostile. This, in itself, is a sign that the Spirit of God is present and active, helping, healing, and bringing wholeness to us.
All that Christ does and asks us to do, in imitation of him, is to give life: “I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He knows that our journey on this side of eternity will be imperfect, both because of the sufferings and sins we cause, and what others do to us. No suffering or hurt is hidden from him. Still, it is life, not death that he desires. So he invites us to take on his gaze and heart: Only then can we go to our brother who has hurt us, and with forgiveness, love, patience, and prudence seek to bring him back to the light. Doing so always brings us back to the heart of Christ and of his Church since he is the Light: He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
This passage is a classic reference for fraternal correction: the Christian practice of helping another to live the truth in love and bring to his or her attention a real fault that may be causing harm to that person or to others. It’s rooted in the outward gaze of Christ himself toward his children: a gaze with no selfishness, no egotism, but one of pure love that begins in the truth and desires the good of others. It’s a practice that must constantly bring us back to our knees and to living in sincerity before God since only his light can truly illuminate our hearts and purify our intentions for the good of others.
There seems to be a special grace hidden in communion—in working together for the good of others and in praying together. Jesus highlighted both of these aspects in his words to his apostles. Let Jesus’ affirmation strengthen our faith in the power of intercessory prayer and the great gift he has given us in the Church and our own communities and families. He wishes to make himself present in the world through us in our communities. As he said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to see others, the world around us, and our own self with your eyes. Draw us close to you since you are the light who reveals the truth of all things. May we live and walk today in the light of your truth and love.
Action: Lord, today by your grace let us make a physical step to try to see someone who has hurt us with your loving eyes.