Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Correcting a Christian who does something wrong "is a service to him and to the community. But this service only works through brotherly love, always remembering that we are all sinners and we all need forgiveness of God. When I speak badly of others, when I unjustly criticize others, when I speak badly of my brother: this is killing the other's reputation. Even the words kill". This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis' reflection before the Angelus today. After the prayer he recalled the peace process in Ukraine - despite today's "not very encouraging" news - and blessed a group of volunteers from the Italian Red Cross who today leave for Iraq.
Reflecting on today's Gospel, which presents the theme of fraternal correction
in the community of believers, Francis
said: "That is how I have to correct another Christian when he does something that is not good. Jesus
teaches us that if my brother
sins against me, offends me, I have to use charity
towards him and, first of all, talk to
him personally, explain to him that what he has said or done is not good. And if the brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a
progressive intervention: first,
go back to talk to him with two or three
other people, so that he can be made more aware of the mistake he has made, and if, in spite of this, he does not accept your exhortation, then
you must say it to the community, and if
he will not even listen to the
community, you need to make him feel the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by breaking communion
with his brothers and sisters in
the faith. "
The stages of this journey, the Pope said, "indicate the effort that the Lord asks of his community to accompany those who make mistakes, so they will not be lost. Firstly, we must avoid the clamor of the news and gossip of the community. The very first thing to do is avoid this. 'Go' and admonish him alone "(verse. 15). This is an attitude of delicacy, prudence, humility, caution against those who have committed a crime, avoiding words that can hurt and kill ones brother . When I speak badly of others, when I unjustly criticize others , when I speak badly of my brother: this is killing the other's reputation. Even the words kill! We must proceed in this seriously ".
At the same time this discretion -
to speak to him alone - "is to avoid unnecessarily mortifying the sinner. Speaking one on one, no
one else need know and everything is finished. It is in light of this,
we perceive the seriousness of the consecutive interventions, which includes the
involvement of some witnesses
and then even the community. The aim is to help our
brother to realize what he has
done, and that with his guilt he has
offended not just one, but
all. But also
help each other, deliver each other from the wrath and resentment that can
only hurt". That bitterness
of heart, he added in unscripted comments, " that leads us to insult. But it is very bad to a
Christian insulting. It's bad,
you know? Do not insult! Understand?
Insulting is not a Christian. "
In fact, before God, "we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, everyone. In fact, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is a matter of love and communion that must prevail in the Christian community, it is a mutual service that we can and we have to offer one another. Correcting one's brother is a service, and it is only possible and effective if everyone recognizes himself as a sinner and in need of the Lord's forgiveness". This is why at the beginning of Mass, "when we are asked to recognize that we are sinners before the Lord." And among the conditions that are common to the participants in the celebration of the Eucharist "two are fundamental: we are all sinners and God gives all his mercy. These are the two conditions which throw open the doors so we may really participate at Mass. We must always remember this before going to our brother for fraternal correction. We ask this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the liturgical feast of whose Nativity we will celebrate tomorrow".
Immediately after the Marian prayer, the Pope said:
"In these last few days there have
been significant steps in the search of
a truce in the regions affected
by the conflict in eastern
Ukraine. Despite having heard
the worrying news today, I hope that relief
may be brought to the population and efforts made for a
lasting peace. Let us pray that, in the logic of encounter, the dialogue that has begun will continue to bear the hoped for fruits. Mary, Queen
of Peace, pray for us. "
A thought for Africa: "I join my voice to that also the Bishops of Lesotho, who appealed for peace in that country. I condemn all acts of violence and pray the Lord so that peace in justice and fraternity be restored in the Kingdom of Lesotho". This Sunday, he added immediately, "a convoy of about 30 volunteers from the Italian Red Cross leave for Iraq, for the area of Erbil, where tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees are concentrated. I impart my blessing to all of them for this generous choice, and to all those who seek to concretely help our persecuted and oppressed brothers. May the Lord bless you. "
"Remember- concluded Francis - that tomorrow as I said is the liturgical feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. It is her birthday. And what do you do for your mother's birthday? You wish her a happy borthday. Tomorrow early in the morning wish Our Lady a happy birthday with your words and heart. Say a Hail Mary that comes from the heart, from the heart of a son and daughter. Don't forget! I ask you all, please pray for me, and I wish you a good Sunday and good lunch. Goodbye. "