GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xviii, 15-22.
(Brotherly Correction and the Ecce Homo.)
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father Who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter unto Him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.
In this gospel, so rich in content, Jesus speaks (i) of brotherly correction, (2) of the authority given to the apostles, (3) of the power of prayer, and (4) of reconciliation. Nothing seems to us harder to bear than a deserved correction. Such is the blindness of our self-love. Yet it is not only our duty, but it is always profitable and meritorious for us to receive or administer brotherly correction. However, it must be taken with humility and patience, and it must be given with prudence, meekness and brotherly love. As in all things, so here, too, our divine Savior is our best model. Never was a more severe correction and punishment given to sinners with greater patience, love, meekness and humility, than when Jesus, vested in His scarlet garment of mockery, His sacred flesh lacerated by the scourge, His sacred head streaming with blood and bowed down beneath the crown of thorns, lifted up His blood-filled eyes and gazed upon the surging mass of hateful, ungrateful Jews, while Pilate stand ing near Him, uttered those reproachful words, "Behold the Man," "Ecce Homo."
And you can look on silently when your fellow man gives scandal, when he disfigures the image of God in himself and in others. And you become angry when a sincere friend reminds you of your faults, and you can remain spiteful and unforgiving. Humble yourself before the "Ecce Homo," and tremble before the judgment of an angry God.
LET US PRAY.
Graciously hear us, O almighty and merciful God, and favorably grant us the gifts of whole some self denial.
Pain-laden Savior, grant us the grace to accept all deserved and undeserved corrections in Thy spirit of humility and patience: and give us also the grace to correct our brethren in the same loving manner as Thou didst correct them, when Thy sad picture of "Ecce Homo" seemed to say to all man kind: This I have done for you, what will you do for me? Amen.