Vatican City, 7 September 2014 (VIS) – Fraternal correction, as it is presented by St. Matthew in this Sunday's Gospel reading, was the theme of the Pope's reflection during today's Angelus, at midday. “Jesus teaches us that if my Christian brother wrongs me or offends me, I must be charitable towards him and, first of all, speak to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good. And what if my brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a way of intervening gradually: first, to speak to him again with another two or three people, so that he is more aware of the mistake he has made. If, in spite of this, he does not accept this exhortation, it is necessary to tell the community, and if he does not even listen to the community, then we have to let him know of the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with his brothers and sisters in the faith”.
“The steps in this itinerary show the strength that the Lord asks of the community to support those who err, so that they are not lost. Above all it is necessary to avoid the clamour of news and gossip in the community. The attitude must be that of gentleness, prudence, humility and care in relation to those who have erred, avoiding words that may harm or kill our brother. Because even words can kill! When I gossip or when I unjustly criticise, when I curse a brother with my tongue, this means destroying the reputation of the other person. … At the same time, this discretion in speaking to him alone has the aim of not pointlessly mortifying the sinner. … In view of this need, we can understand the following series of interventions, which include the involvement of other witnesses and finally even the community. The aim is to help the person to understand what they have done, and to be aware that they have thereby offended not just one person, but everyone. But it also helps us to rid ourselves of anger and resentment … that bitterness of the heart that leads to anger and resentment leads us to insult and offend. It is very unpleasant to see insults and aggression from a Christian. … To insult is not Christian”.
“In reality”, he continued, “before the Lord we are all sinners and all in need of forgiveness. All of us. Indeed, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is an aspect of the love and the communion that should reign in the Christian community; it is a mutual service that we can and must render to each other … and it is possible and effective only if each person recognises himself as a sinner and in need of the Lord's forgiveness. The same awareness that enables me to recognise the errors of the other, first of all reminds me that I myself have made, and make mistakes, many times”.
“Therefore, at the beginning of Mass, we are invited each time to acknowledge ourselves as sinners before the Lord, expressing with words and gestures the sincere repentance of the heart”, he concluded. “And Jesus Himself invites all of us, saints and sinners, to his table, bringing us together at the various crossroads in in the different situations of our lives. And among the conditions that unite all the participants in the Eucharistic celebration, two are fundamental: we are all sinners, and God offers His mercy to us all”.