If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him, when the two of you are alone; and if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn’t listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as a pagan, or a tax collector.
I say to you: whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep unbound.
In like manner, I say to you, if, on earth, two of you agree in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father; for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there, among them.
The text of today’s gospel reading presents an important difficulty in terms of the actual words used by Jesus. The present liturgical version reads: “If your brother (or sister) should commit some wrong against you…” These last two words are missing from the best and oldest manuscripts and have probably been added here by mistake because they appear in the following paragraph, only six verses later. Copyists tend to harmonize passages close to each other (close either by proximity or by similarity of content.) So our text should read simply: “If your brother (or sister) should commit some wrong…” The fault in question need not have been committed against me. It has also to be a serious matter and something which is not yet of public knowledge.
Naturally, before attempting to correct others of their faults, we must be sure that some minimal conditions are fulfilled. First, we must be sure of the facts. Second, there must be serious hope that the admonition will have a good effect. Lastly, the circumstances of time, place, mood, etc., must be favorable for the admonition to succeed.
Correcting others is an art; indeed, it is a great act of love when it is done with a pure motive.
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