Correction



Pope Francis        07.09.14 Angelus St Peter's Square       23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A          Matthew 18: 15-20


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

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. 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.

The stages of this plan show the effort that the Lord asks of his community in order to accompany the one who transgresses, so that he or she is not lost. It is important above all to prevent any clamour in the news and gossip in the community — this is the first thing, this must be avoided. “Go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (v. 15). The approach is one of sensitivity, prudence, humility, attention towards the one who committed a fault, to avoid wounding or killing the brother with words. Because, you know, words too can kill! When I speak, when I make an unfair criticism, when I “flay” a brother with my tongue, this is killing another person’s reputation! Words kill too. Let us pay attention to this. At the same time, the discretion of speaking to him alone is to avoid needlessly humiliating the sinner. It is discussed between the two, no one is aware of it and then it’s over. This requirement also takes into account the consequent series of interventions calling for the involvement of a few witnesses and then actually of the community. The purpose is to help the person realize what he has done, and that through his fault he has offended not only one, but everyone. But it also helps us to free ourselves from anger or resentment which only causes harm: that bitterness of heart which brings anger and resentment, and which leads us to insult and aggression. It’s terrible to see an insult or taunt issue from the mouth of a Christian. It is ugly. Do you understand? Do not insult! To insult is not Christian. Understood? To insult is not Christian.

Actually, before God we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. All of us. Indeed, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is a mark of the love and communion which must reign in the Christian community; it is, rather, a mutual service that we can and must render to one another. To reprove a brother is a service, and it is possible and effective only if each one recognizes oneself to be a as sinner and in need of the Lord’s forgiveness. The same awareness that enables me to recognize the fault of another, even before that, reminds me that I have likewise made mistakes and I am often wrong.

This is why, at the beginning of Mass, every time, we are called before the Lord to recognize that we are sinners, expressing through words and gestures sincere repentance of the heart. And we say: “Have mercy on me, Lord. I am a sinner! I confess to Almighty God my sins”. And we don’t say: “Lord, have mercy on this man who is beside me, or this woman, who are sinners”. No! “Have mercy on me!”. We are all sinners and in need of the Lord’s forgiveness. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to our spirit and makes us recognize our faults in light of the Word of Jesus. And Jesus himself invites us all, saints and sinners, to his table, gathering us from the crossroads, from diverse situations of life (cf. Mt 22:9-10). And among the conditions in common among those participating in the Eucharistic celebration, two are fundamental in order to go to Mass correctly: we are all sinners and God grants his mercy to all. These are the two conditions which open wide the doors that we might enter Mass properly. We must always remember this before addressing a brother in brotherly correction.

Let us ask all this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Nativity we will celebrate in tomorrow’s liturgy.





Pope Francis   12.09.14   Holy Mass,  Santa Marta    Luke 6: 39-42

In recent days the liturgy has led us to meditate on many Christian attitudes: to give, to be generous, to serve others, to forgive, to be merciful. These are approaches which help the Church to grow. But today especially, the Lord makes us consider one of these approaches, which he has already spoken of, and that is brotherly correction. The bottom line is: When a brother, a sister from the community makes a mistake, how does one correct them?

Always through the liturgy the Lord has given us advice on how to correct others. But today he resumes and says: one must correct him or her, but as a person who sees and not as one who is blind. Luke (6:39-42): “Can a blind man lead a blind man?”.

Thus to correct it is necessary to see clearly. And to follow several rules of behaviour that the Lord himself proposed. First of all, the advice he gives to correct a brother, we heard the other day. It is to take aside your brother who made the error and speak to him, telling him, brother, in this regard, I believe you did not do right!

And to take him aside, indeed, means to correct him with
charity. It would otherwise be like performing surgery without anaesthesia, resulting in a patient’s painful death. And charity is like anaesthesia which helps him to receive the care and to accept the correction. Here then is the first step toward a brother: take him aside, gently, lovingly, and speak to him.

Let us always speak with charity, without wounding, in our communities, parishes, institutions, religious communities, when one must say something to a sister, to a brother.

Along with charity, it is necessary to tell the
truth and never say something that isn’t true. In fact many times in our communities things are said to another person that aren’t true: they are libellous. Or, if they are true however, they harm the reputation of that person.

In this respect the following may be a way to approach a brother: I am telling you this, to you, what you have done. It is true. It isn’t a rumour that I heard. Because rumours wound, they are insults to a person’s reputation, they are strikes at a person’s heart. And so the truth is always needed, even if at times it isn’t good to hear it. In every case if the truth is told with charity and with love, it is easier to accept. This is why it is necessary to speak the truth with charity: this is how one must speak to others about faults.

Jesus speaks of the third rule,
humility, in the passage of Luke’s Gospel: correct others without hypocrisy, that is, with humility. It is good to point out to oneself if you must correct a tiny flaw there, consider that you have so many that are greater. The Lord says this effectively: first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck from the eye of another. Only in this way will you not be blind and will you see clearly to truly help your brother. Thus humility is important in order to recognize that I am a greater sinner than him, a greater sinner than her. Afterwards I must help him and her to correct this flaw.

If I do not perform brotherly correction with charity, do not perform it in truth and do not perform it with humility, I become blind. And if I do not see, it is asked, how do I heal another blind person.

In substance, fraternal correction is an act to heal the body of the Church. It is like mending a hole in the fabric of the Church. However, one must proceed with much sensitivity, like mothers and grandmothers when they mend, and this is the very manner with which one must perform brotherly correction.

On the other hand if you are not capable of performing fraternal reproof with love, with charity, in truth and with humility, you will offend, damage that person’s heart: you will create an extra tale that wounds and you will become a blind hypocrite, as Jesus says. Indeed, the day’s reading from the Gospel of Luke reads: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye”. And while it is necessary to recognize oneself as being a greater sinner than the other, as brothers, however, we are called to help to correct him. 

There is a sign which perhaps can help us: when one sees something wrong and feels that he should correct it but perceives a certain pleasure in doing so, then it is time to pay attention, because that is not the Lord’s way. Indeed, in the Lord there is always the cross, the difficulty of doing something good. And love and gentleness always come from the Lord.

This whole line of reasoning on fraternal correction,  demands that we not judge. Even if we Christians are tempted to act as scholars, almost as if to move outside the game of sin and of grace, as if were angels.

This is a temptation that St Paul also speaks of in his First Letter to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22-27): “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. The Apostle therefore reminds us, “a Christian who, in community, doesn’t do things, even brotherly correction, in charity, in truth and with humility, is disqualified”. Because he has not managed to become a mature Christian. 

Let us pray that the Lord help us in this brotherly service, so beautiful and so agonizing, of helping brothers and sisters to be better, pushing ourselves to always do so with charity, in truth and with humility.



Pope Francis    03.03.19     Angelus St Peter's Square   Luke 6: 39-45
Pope Francis 03.03.19 Gossip

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel passage presents brief parables with which Jesus seeks to indicate to his disciples the
path to follow in order to live wisely. With the question: can a blind man lead a blind man?” (Lk 6:39), he wishes to emphasize that a leader cannot be blind, but must see clearly, that is, he must have wisdom in order to lead wisely, otherwise he risks causing damage to the people who are entrusted to him. Jesus thus calls attention to those who have educational responsibility or who govern: spiritual pastors, public authorities, legislators, teachers, parents, exhorting them to be aware of their delicate role and to always discern the right path on which to lead people.

And Jesus borrows a wise expression in order to designate himself as an example of teacher and leader to be followed: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher” (v. 40). It is a call to follow his example and his teaching in order to be sound and wise leaders. And this teaching is included above all in the Sermon on the Mount — which, in the past three Sundays the liturgy has offered us in the Gospel — indicating the attitude of meekness and of mercy in order to be honest, humble and just people. In today’s passage we find another significant phrase, which exhorts us to be neither presumptuous nor hypocritical. It says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (v. 41). So often, as we all know, it is easy or convenient to see and condemn the flaws and sins of others, without being able to see our own with such clarity. We always hide our flaws; we even hide them from ourselves; while it is easy to see the flaws of others. The temptation is to be indulgent with ourselves — lenient with ourselves — and severe with others. It is always useful to help one’s neighbour with wise advice, but while we observe and
correct our neighbour’s flaws, we must be aware that we too have flaws. If I believe I have none, I cannot condemn or correct others. We all have flaws: everyone. We must be aware of them, and, before condemning others, we must look within ourselves. In this way we can act in a credible way, with humility, witnessing to charity.

How can we understand if our view is clear or if it is obstructed by a log? And again Jesus tells us so: “no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit” (vv. 43-44). The fruits are actions but also words. A tree’s quality can also be understood from words. Indeed, those who are good draw good from their hearts and their mouths, and those who are
bad draw bad, by practicing the most damaging exercise among us, which is grumbling, gossiping, speaking ill of others. This destroys. It destroys the family, destroys school, destroys the workplace, destroys the neighbourhood. Wars begin from the tongue. Let us consider a bit this lesson of Jesus and ask ourselves the question: do I speak ill of others? Do I always seek to tarnish others? Is it easier for me to see others’ flaws than my own? And let us try to correct ourselves at least a little: it will do us all good.

Let us invoke Mary’s support and intercession in order to follow the Lord on this journey.





Pope Francis        06.09.20  Angelus St Peter's Square      23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A            Matthew 18: 15-20

Pope Francis  Today's passage speaks about fraternal correction  06.09.20 Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 18:15-20) is taken from Jesus' fourth discourse in Matthew's account, known as the discourse on the 'community' or the 'ecclesial' discourse. Today's passage speaks about fraternal correction, and invites us to reflect on the twofold dimension of Christian existence: community, which demands safeguarding communion - that is, the unity of the Church - and personal, which obliges attention and respect for every individual conscience.

To correct a brother who has made a mistake, Jesus suggests a pedagogy of rehabilitation. And Jesus' pedagogy is always a pedagogy of rehabilitation, of salvation. And this pedagogy of rehabilitation is articulated in three passages. In the first place he says: “point out the fault when the two of you are alone” (v. 15), that is, do not air his sin in public. It is about going to your brother with discretion, not to judge him but to help him realize what he has done. How many times have we had this experience: someone comes and tells us: 'But listen, you were mistaken about this. You should change a little in this regard'. Perhaps in the beginning we get angry, but then we say 'thank you', because it is a gesture of brotherhood, of communion, of help, of rehabilitation.

And it is not easy to put this teaching of Jesus into practice, for various reasons. There is the fear that the brother or sister may react badly; at times you may lack sufficient confidence with him or with her. And other reasons. But every time we have done this, we have felt it was precisely the way of the Lord.

However, it may happen that, despite my good intentions, the first intervention may fail. In this case it is good not to give up and say: 'Make do, I wash my hands of it'. No, this is not Christian. Do not give up, but seek the support of some other brother or sister. Jesus says: “if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (v. 16). This is a precept of Mosaic law (cf. Deut 19:15). Although it may seem a disadvantage to the accused, in reality it will serve to protect him against false accusers. But Jesus goes further: the two witnesses are called not to accuse and judge, but to help. 'But let us agree, you and I, let us go talk to this man or woman, who is mistaken, who is making a bad impression. Let us go as brothers and speak to him or her'. This is the attitude of rehabilitation that Jesus wants from us. In fact Jesus explains that even this approach – the second approach, with witnesses - may fail, unlike Mosaic law, for which the testimony of two or three witnesses was enough to convict.

Indeed, even the love of two or more brothers or sisters may be insufficient, because that man or woman is stubborn. In this case – Jesus adds – “tell it to the church” (v. 17), that is, the community. In some situations the entire community becomes involved. There are things that can have an impact on other brothers and sisters: it takes a greater love to rehabilitate the brother. But at times even this may not be enough. And Jesus says: “and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (ibid.). This expression, seemingly so scornful, in reality invites us to put the brother in God's hands: only the Father will be able to show a greater love than that of all brothers and sisters put together.

This teaching of Jesus helps us a great deal, because – let us consider an example – when we see a mistake, a fault, a slip, in that brother or sister, usually the first thing we do is to go and recount it to others, to gossip. And gossip closes the heart to the community, closes off the unity of the Church. The great gossiper is the devil, who always goes about telling bad things about others, because he is the liar who seeks to separate the Church to distance brothers and sisters and not create community. Please, brothers and sisters, let us make an effort not to gossip. Chatter is a plague more awful than Covid! Let us make an effort: no gossip. It is the love of Jesus, who had embraced the tax collectors and Gentiles, scandalizing the conformists of the time. However it is not a sentence without an appeal, but a recognition that at times our human attempts may fail, and that only being before God can bring the brother to face his own conscience and responsibility for his actions. If this matter does not work, then silence and prayer for the brother or sister who has made a mistake, but never gossip.

May the Virgin Mary help us to make fraternal correction a healthy practice, so that in our communities ever new fraternal relationships, founded on mutual forgiveness and above all on the invincible power of God's mercy, may be instilled.