Gospel for Sunday, September 6: Matthew 18: 15-20
Matthew 18, 15-20
15“If your brother commits a fault against you, go and warn him between you and him alone; if he listens to you, you will have gained your brother; 16if he does not listen, take one or two more people with you, so that everything can be decided on the word of two or three witnesses. 17If he doesn’t listen to them, tell the community; and if he does not even listen to the community, let him be to you like the pagan and the tax collector. 18Truly I say to you: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Truly I say to you again: if two of you on earth agree to ask for anything, my Father who is in heaven will give it to them. 20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them”.
Mt 18: 15-20
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).
Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.
The theme of today’s Gospel underlines that the power to forgive, to “bind and loose”, which two chapters earlier had been given to Peter (Mt 16,13-19), is now given to the whole community. We all therefore have the power to forgive on behalf of God! Some have thought that the Petrine power was extended to all Christians after the departure of the apostle or after his death, and that in any case this extension to the entire community is a subsequent theological elaboration compared to an initial individual conferral . But in the Gospel of John the Risen Jesus gives this power to all the disciples: “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again: «Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven, and whose sins you do not forgive, they will remain unforgiven'” (Jn 20:20-23). Note that there is a reversal of the order here: no longer “bind and untie”, but “untie and bind”. The first task of the Church will not be to excommunicate, to cut off, but to announce God’s mercy and his forgiveness.
The Hebrew verb slh, the most common term to designate forgiveness, means to erase the memory of the evil received. Other times nasa’ is used which denotes lifting to remove, but also to remove, eliminate. In the Italian language the word “perdonare” is formed by the prefix “per-“, which expresses fullness and abundance, and the verb “donare”: the compound verb therefore means “to donate completely / completely, to donate in the highest degree / in abundance” . In other words, “forgive” is the verb “donate” in the superlative.
Since God is Love, he is a free gift, the maximum expression of God is forgiveness: “For as great as he is, so is his mercy” (Sir 2,18). Forgiveness of sins is a security of faith for the believer: in fact, in the Apostolic Creed we proclaim: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”.
Forgiveness is the call to start living fully again: because “forgiving means removing the obstacles that stand in the way of the fullness of existence because only in a humanity worthy of this name can everyone encounter others and the Other” (P. Farinella) . “Christ – states Pope Francis – came to show us, to make visible the love that God has for us. For you, for you, for you, for me… An active, real love. A love that took his reality seriously. A love that heals, forgives, raises, cures. A love that comes closer and restores dignity. A dignity that we can lose in many ways and forms.”
The believer therefore receives the mission of announcing God’s forgiveness, of always forgiving, and of being the bearer of reconciliation, peace and friendship everywhere.
Happy Mercy to all!
Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org.