The Gospel this Sunday speaks of fraternal correction - that is the invitation of Jesus for us to have courageous conversations with people about the things that keep us apart. This is a tricky challenge because we either prefer to avoid the person with whom we have issues or we talk to them with anger, convinced that they are wrong and we are right. In an extract from a talk below given in 2021 Pope Francis offers us wise and prudent advice on how we help each other grow in holiness and maturity.
'In effect, when we are tempted to judge others badly, as often happens, we must firstly reflect on our weaknesses. How easy it is to criticise others! But there are people who seem to have a degree in gossip. They criticise others every day. Take a look at yourself! It is good to ask ourselves what drives us to correct a brother or a sister, and if we are not in some way co-responsible for their mistake. In addition to giving us the gift of gentleness, the Holy Spirit invites us to be in solidarity, to bear other’s burdens. How many burdens there are in a person’s life: illness, lack of work, loneliness, pain…! And how many other trials that require the proximity and love of our brothers and sisters! The words of Saint Augustine when he commented on this same passage can also help us: “Therefore, brothers, if a man has been caught out in some wrongdoing, correct him in a spirit of gentleness. And if you raise your voice, love within. If you encourage, if you present yourself as a father, if you reprove, if you are severe, love” (cf. Sermon 163/B 3).
Love always. The supreme rule regarding fraternal correction is love: to want the good of our brothers and sisters. It is a matter of tolerating the problems of others, the defects of others in the silence of prayer, so as to find the right way to help them to correct themselves. And this is not easy. The easiest path is to gossip. Talking behind someone else’s back as if I am perfect. And this should not be done. Gentleness. Patience. Prayer. Proximity. Let us walk with joy and patience along this path, allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. 3rd November 2021