16 August
Mt 18:15-20

"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

There was an ancient Jewish saying that where two or three were gathered to study the Law, God was present among them.  Jesus echoes this, but he says “I am there among them.”  He is himself the Presence of God.  Jewish teachers often called God “the Place”.  Jesus is the place where we meet God; he is "God with us" (Mt 1:23; 28:20).

This is the only proper context in which the difficult subject of “fraternal correction” should be raised.  We all have painful memories of being corrected, when the correction was an expression of superiority or control or anger or impatience or a critical spirit, or indeed anything but love.  In a word, when there is ego in it, it is guaranteed to harm you in the end, even if it improves your behaviour in the short term.  The ego doesn’t know how to love, and therefore it doesn’t know how to correct. 

Happily we also have memories of being corrected with love: when someone, out of genuine goodness and concern, took us aside and put a respectful and loving word in our ear.  That kind of correction cannot be an over-the-shoulder thing, it can only come from a life of love.  If you don’t love people don’t try to correct them, leave it to someone who can do it.  If you love someone, the love itself corrects them, often without your having to say a word.  "The Lord corrects the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Proverbs 3:12). 



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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