In one of the children’s activities of last week, it was suggested that the children learn to place themselves in someone else’s shoes. If we do this ourselves, it may help us to understand better today’s Gospel, especially its first part. Jesus is speaking about how one is to correct someone who has sinned, someone who has made a wrong choice. If we were the ones who sinned, how would we want others to behave towards us? One of our failings, is gossip. When someone does something wrong, news spreads like wild fire, family and friends get to know, and at times the rumour even pops up on social media and in no time at all, this person is judged by one and all. In this Gospel, Jesus is giving us three steps to follow when we correct others.
If we know someone who has done wrong, Jesus wants us to approach this person on his own and talk to him. If this person recognises the fault and is sorry about it, the situation ends there and then. We do not need to tell others about it! If this person does not accept his wrongdoing, we may ask others to help us make him understand. However, we do not turn to others to outnumber him! Jesus wants us to try lovingly and make this person understand, what he has done wrong. If the person recognises the wrong he has made, the case is put to rest. Jesus wants us to try to make things right at all costs, he does not want anyone to take the wrong path. So in this Gospel, Jesus says, that if this person does not accept his wrongdoing when spoken to, we should turn to the Church. The Church is the community. The community is a group of people who have a similar aim in life. Those in a Christian community help each other to grow in their relationship with Jesus. The community is there to help those who make mistakes, to warn in loving ways, so that that person may repent and move on. When I do not manage to help a person who has sinned, and I have neither managed to do so with the help of others, I should turn to those who have better knowledge. If the person in question continues with his wrong decisions, his behaviour shows that does not intend to continue forming part of the community. It is this person who excludes himself. The Church or community, still has the responsibility to pray for this person.
Wouldn’t we want others to act this way with us? Let us stop and think. How do we correct our children? Do we speak to them when they are on their own, or do we correct them in front of others? If there is some disagreement between us adults, do we talk together or do we gossip with our friends about this situation? Today’s Gospel, has one main message, whatever we do, we should do with love.
The second part of the Gospel may confuse us. We believe that Jesus is always with us. So why does he say “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”? Scripture can never be taken out of context if one is to interpret it properly. This Gospel has been primarily written for a Jewish audience, who knew the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) by heart. When Jesus speaks of sin and the warning of others about their wrongdoings, his audience would have immediately remembered the passage in Deuteronomy which speaks about lack of understanding and solutions thereof. Deuteronomy refers to the need of having two or three witnesses, one person alone cannot bring forward a case for judgement. In this passage Jesus speaks about how one can show a person that he is in the wrong. In this part of the Gospel, he is assuring us, that when two or three are praying for a solution to the matter, or praying for wisdom of how one can proceed, he will be there. Jesus did not want us to understand that we cannot pray on our own. The Church is made up of all of us, decisions are not taken by any one person. So this is the context Jesus is speaking in. Let us remember that we are part of the Church and we are part of the Body of Christ. When we have a headache, our whole body aches, when the headache passes our whole being is better. As a Church, we cannot ignore those who do wrong, and we just dismiss them. Jesus is telling us clearly, that we should try our utmost, so that all of us continue to be united.