Matthew 18:15-20 If Your Brother Sins Against You
There are two things that unite people: truth and love. Regardless of where or when you were born, these two fundamental virtues unite all men.
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38), but he never waited for an answer. If he had, the world would be a different place. “I am the way, the truth and the life says the Lord” (Jn 14:6). “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (Jn 8:12). Whoever believes in Christ, believes in the truth. Whoever follows the Lord follows the truth. Whoever worships Jesus, worships the true God. “And the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8:32). The devil (Satan, Lucifer) hides in the light. There is no truth within him. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
What destroys friendships? Lies and jealousy destroy friendships. What is the remedy? Truth and love. These two virtues, united and intimately related to Christ, help us to step outside ourselves, to go beyond ourselves - our own preservation - and to reach out for a higher good. “The glory of the Lord is higher than the skies” (Ps 113:4b). One of my favorite bible verses throughout my seminary days is from Psalm 61, “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). The Rock “that is higher than I” will always be the rock of my salvation – Jesus Christ and his Church.
“If your brother sins against you go and tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “Just as fawning friends pervert us, so also quarrelsome enemies often correct us… Ah. If men would know themselves to be but men and if he who glories would glory in the Lord!” The Church of Christ consists of sinners and saints; it just depends on when you have gone to confession! We are in constant need of conversion. We are called to speak the truth, practice the truth and admonish each other in the truth out of love for one another. And when all else fails, the Lord instructs us to treat our enemies like “Gentiles and tax collectors”. That is, like he did, with mercy and compassion - the greatest application of truth and love. This is how friendships are restored.
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The Lord will always be present when we worship him in love and truth. The Lord is and will always be really – physically – present when we worship Him in front of the Tabernacle, in adoration. He is the Rock of my salvation.
“God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, O Lord, abounding in love and truth, turn and take pity on me.” (Ps. 86:15) Today, let us spend some time before the Lord in adoration.