In today’s First Reading from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome he encourages them to live according to the Golden Rule: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” Paul believed that if we truly love others as we ought we have no need for any laws or commandments. How would your household function with no norms/laws/rules?
The reality is that we do not always live golden-ly and as a result, rules help us to stand upright as God created us. God gave us free will and knew that we would not always choose rightly. In God’s Wisdom, He has given us one another to be co-workers and guides in this world. We are responsible for each other.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus lays out the authentic way for us to support each other in mutual responsibility: turning away from gossip and toward relationship. Jesus rejects all gossip as well as a primary authoritarian or institutional approach. Instead, Jesus asks us to first go and talk to the person face to face with whom we are not in right relationship. It is so much easier to complain to others or run to someone with more authority but such an approach only strikes division between us and harms authentic relationship in the process. We were made for communion with each other in God and anything that fractures that communion must be removed.
If a person is unresponsive to questioning or fraternal correction ultimately Jesus instructs His Apostles, the leaders in the Church community to play a role for the sake of communion. Jesus tells His Apostles that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” To bind or to loose means that Jesus has passed on to Church leaders the responsibility to discern, interpret, and teach the law and how it is to be applied. We are responsible for each other and ultimately, the Catholic Church, founded on the Apostles, is responsible for supporting us as well by discerning and serving God’s law here on earth. With such a weighty responsibility no wonder the Church moves so slowly in changing matters of moral teaching.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
-How do I deal with tension or confrontation in my family/life?
-What role does passive-aggressiveness or gossip play in my relationships?
-Do I believe that the Church helps to communicate God’s law?
-Am I open to fraternal correction, even from the people I do not like? From Christian leaders?
Photo Credit: Normal Rockwell