In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that before entering into litigation with someone who has wronged us we should try simple fraternal correction. Our society today tends to try and resolve disputes through rules and regulations, lawyers and courts, fines and penalties. We often try from the beginning to get justice from someone through someone else, when we know that nobody reacts well to being pressured into doing something. We should always try to start by settling a dispute fraternally: one on one, in frank but charitable dialogue. We should not only seek our own good, but the good of the person who has afflicted us, and we won’t completely understand their motives if we don’t speak to them. There are many small disagreements that can be resolved this way, and to everyone’s satisfaction.
If an attempt at fraternal correction fails it is not a lack of charity to bring witnesses in and, if necessary the Church (authorities), in order to help both parties see the truth and adhere to it. Justice is sought after, but the good of both parties as well. If the guilty party does not listen to all the facts and to an authoritative judgment, then the guilty party has been shown to not be in communion with those he or she has afflicted and that has to be acknowledged, sometimes publicly.
Let’s pray today that everyone be open to simple fraternal correction for the sake of charity and communion, without the need for “escalation.”
Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1–12; Psalm 66:1–3a, 5, 8, 16–17; Matthew 18:15–20.