Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 18, 15-20

'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: whatever the misdemeanour, the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain the charge.

But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a gentile or a tax collector.

'In truth I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

'In truth I tell you once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven.

For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This Gospel passage reminds us that fraternal correction and forgiveness—which are two central dimensions of the life of the Christian community—require much attention and sensitivity. There is, indeed, a manner of not saying things to others, which may appear to be respectful, but is actually indifferent. Every believer has the duty to correct his or her brother or sister when he or she makes a mistake, just as everyone has the right to be forgiven when he or she has erred. Unfortunately we live in a society that is losing its sense of forgiveness. And this is happening because, first of all, it has lost the debt of love for one another that the Lord has asked us to have. The Word of God deeply challenges us to change a mentality that has become ever sadder and harder. In a world that is interdependent as well as competitive, like the one in which we live, we need to learn that in order to be truly free and to construct a dignified society, we need to become slaves of love for one another. The utopia in which every man and woman’s rights are respected can only become real if we all take on one essential duty: respecting other people’s right to be loved by us. This right is woven into the foundation of a type of human coexistence that is fully free from many internal and external threats. The clearest image of this coexistence can be seen in the unity of the disciples who pray together. Jesus says to them: “Truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” These are demanding words, more for God than for us. If the disciples agree to ask for the same thing, whatever it may be, God himself is bound to grant it. This is the meaning of Jesus’ words. When we come together in harmony, united in one will, our prayer gains enormous power. If our prayers are not answered, we have to wonder whether our way of praying has been rotted in the root by selfishness and indifference. How often is our prayer marked by laziness and a lack of love and concern for the problems and suffering of our community and the world around us! How many people are waiting for the charity of a prayer that no one grants! With spiritual wisdom John Paul II spoke of his prayer as being bound to “geography,” that is to the needs of the countries he had visited or situations of suffering of which he read or was informed. We too can do the same.