Today’s Gospel reading is taken from a chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, which is sometimes called the “discourse on the Church” or the “church order” discourse. In this part of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks more directly about matters of Church discipline and order. In today’s reading we find one of only three instances in which Jesus uses the word church in Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew’s record of Jesus’ teaching, we can hear echoes of the kinds of issues faced by the early Christian community.[1]

In this Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we have a duty to involve ourselves in fraternal correction. “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you; the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain a charge.[2]

Jesus does not discourage disagreement within the community of the Church; he acknowledges the reality of conflict and error and offers his disciples a means for addressing such matters.[3]

However, the sinner if he does listen has not to be discouraged. For the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: –

There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.”[4]

As for the one who has been wronged, naturally all must be done after prayer, invoking the Holy Spirit to guide his or her words. Charity is always first and foremost – try practicing it more and more.

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP

[1] loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/liturgical-year/sunday-connection/

[2]Mt. 18: 15-16

[3] loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/liturgical-year/sunday-connection/

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church #982