23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Gospel – Matthew 18:15-20
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us about the personal and communal dimensions of reconciliation.
The first has been described as fraternal correction – when we approach someone privately, in a spirit of charity, not with animus or resentment, in order to promote healing and for the spiritual good of the person who committed the fault.
“Fraternal correction is a work of mercy,” Benedict XVI reminds us:
None of us sees himself or his shortcomings clearly. It is therefore an act of love to complement one another, to help one another see each other better, and correct each other…to know the shortcomings that we ourselves do not want to see…
Of course, this great work of mercy, helping one another so that each of us can truly rediscover his own integrity and functionality as an instrument of God, demands great humility and love.
Only if it comes from a humble heart that does not rank itself above others, that does not consider itself better than others but only a humble instrument to offer reciprocal help; only if we feel this true and deep humility, if we feel that these words come from common love…can we help one another in this regard with a great act of love.
At the same time, sin is not just a private matter, because it is “an offense against God” that also “damages communion with the Church” (Catechism paragraph 1440).
Hence Jesus has provided a way for us to be reconciled in a deeper sense. By giving His apostles the power to forgive sins, He established the sacrament of Reconciliation through the Church (1444-45). This healing sacrament reconciles us first and foremost with God (1468), restores fraternal communion, and has a “revitalizing effect on the life of the Church” (1469).
Question for reflection: When have I benefited from charitable correction?