Jesus said: “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20). Personal prayer is of course important, indeed indispensable, but the Lord guarantees his presence to the community — even if it is very small — which is united and in agreement, because this reflects the very reality of the Triune God, perfect communion of love. Origen says “we should practise this symphony” (Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, 14,1), in other words this harmony within the Christian community. We should practise both fraternal correction — which demands deep humility and simplicity of heart — and prayer so that it may rise to God from a community truly united in Christ.
- Pope Benedict XVI
Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The biblical Readings of Mass this Sunday converge on the theme of brotherly love in the community of believers whose source lies in the communion of the Trinity. The Apostle Paul says that the whole Law of God finds fullness in love, so that in our relationships with others the Ten Commandments and every other precept are summed up in these words: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (cf. Romans 13:8-10).
The Gospel text from chapter 18 of Matthew on the life of the Christian community tells us that brotherly love also involves a sense of mutual responsibility. For this reason if my brother commits a sin against me I must treat him charitably and first of all, speak to him privately, pointing out that what he has said or done is wrong. This approach is known as “fraternal correction”: it is not a reaction to the offence suffered but is motivated by love for one's brethren.
St Augustine comments: “Whoever has offended you, in offending you, has inflicted a serious injury upon himself; and would you not care for a brother’s injury?... You must forget the offence you have received but not the injury of one of your brethren (Discourse 82, 7).
And what if my brother does not listen to me? In today’s Gospel Jesus points to a gradual approach: first, speak to him again with two or three others, the better to help him realize what he has done; if, in spite of this, he still refuses to listen, it is necessary to tell the community; and if he refuses to listen even to the community, he must be made to perceive that he has cut himself off by separating himself from the communion of the Church.
All this demonstrates that we are responsible for each other in the journey of Christian life; each person, aware of his own limitations and shortcomings, is called to accept fraternal correction and to help others with this specific service.
Another fruit of love in the community is unanimous prayer. Jesus said: “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20). Personal prayer is of course important, indeed indispensable, but the Lord guarantees his presence to the community — even if it is very small — which is united and in agreement, because this reflects the very reality of the Triune God, perfect communion of love. Origen says “we should practise this symphony” (Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, 14,1), in other words this harmony within the Christian community. We should practise both fraternal correction — which demands deep humility and simplicity of heart — and prayer so that it may rise to God from a community truly united in Christ.
Let us ask all this through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and of St Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor, whom we commemorated in the liturgy yesterday.
After the Angelus:
Today the 25th [Italian] National Eucharistic Congress is opening in Ancona with Holy Mass at which Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, my Legate, is presiding. Next Sunday, please God, I shall have the joy of going to Ancona for the last day of the Congress. From this moment I address my cordial greeting and my blessing to all who will be taking part in this event of grace, who in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist worship and praise Christ, the source of life and hope for every human being and for the whole world.
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. I greet the doctors gathered for the Matercare International Conference on the Dignity of Mothers and Obstetricians, as well as the students present from the University of Mary, Rome Campus. Today’s Gospel passage reminds us that God is present when the Church gathers to worship in his name. May we always draw grace and strength from our prayerful encounters with God in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith. May God bless all of you!
Lastly I address a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, and in particular to the numerous group of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, at the end of their study meeting on the theme of labour, 30 years after Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Laborem Exercens. I appreciated, dear friends, your attention to this Document which continues to be one of the milestones in the Church’s social teaching.
I greet the group of new Seminarians of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, the Association Collegium Liberianum which works in the Basilica of St Mary Major at the service of liturgical celebrations, as well as the faithful from Abbazia in the Diocese of Bergamo. I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. I thank you all.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
St. Peter's Square
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. Matthew 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.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, in recent days, significant steps have been made in seeking a truce between the regions involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, although listening to the news today has not been very reassuring. Still, I hope that they may bring relief to the people and contribute to the efforts for lasting peace. Let us pray that, in the logic of encounter, the dialogue initiated may proceed and bear the fruit that is hoped for. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
I also join my voice to that of the Bishops of Lesotho, who have launched an appeal for peace in that country. I condemn every act of violence and I pray to the Lord that peace and justice may be restored in fraternity to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
This Sunday a convoy of about 30 Italian Red Cross volunteers left for Iraq, to the area of Dohuk, near Erbil, where tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis are concentrated. Expressing my deep appreciation of this generous and concrete work, I impart my blessing to all of them and to all the people who are concretely seeking to help our persecuted and oppressed brothers and sisters. May the Lord bless you.
I address a cordial greeting to the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima and the faithful of his diocese, who today are inaugurating the 20th Synod of the Archdiocese of Lima. May the Lord accompany you on this journey of faith, of community and of growth.
And remember tomorrow — as I said — the liturgical celebration of the Nativity of Our Lady. It would be her birthday. And what does one do when mama celebrates her birthday? One greets her with best wishes on her birthday.... Tomorrow remember, bright and early, from your heart and from your lips, to greet Our Lady and wish her: “Happy Birthday!”. And say a Hail Mary from the heart of a son and or daughter. Do not forget!
To all of you I ask, please, pray for me. I wish you a happy Sunday and a good lunch.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Francis I, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
Facts have shown that the Angels always cooperate with good people & the Authorities to maintain order and justice.
Can someone please give some useful tips on how to put God and His Angels to sleep so that they 100% don’t hear, don’t see & don’t take action?
It’s mission: IMPOSSIBLE (cf. Psalm 121)!
22 September 2014, Monday, Gospel Reading: Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Luke 8:16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed. No, he puts it on a lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in.
For nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, nothing secret but it will be known and brought to light.
So take care how you hear; for anyone who has will be given more; from anyone who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.’