Jesus directs men how to admonish and teach sinners and to shun unrepentant sinners. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Fraternity so he can treat every Catholic man as a true brother and by seeking the Fruits of Love, Patience, Kindness and Generosity from the Holy Spirit so he can admonish and instruct those stuck in sin. 

Liturgy

19th Week in Ordinary time – Wednesday – Mt 18:15-20

Commentary

Having taught the Apostles to diligently seek lost souls in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus now gives practical direction to bring men who are lost in sin, back into communion with Him. Speaking to men using masculine terms, Jesus reveals that some men stuck in persistent grave sin may repent if they are confronted by holy men.  

Jesus describes a three-step process, using subsidiary (to solve problems at the lowest level possible), beginning with a man-to-man rebuke (fraternal correction) followed by a discussion with several men (witnesses), and finally a discussion with the local parish priest (the Holy Catholic Church). After explicitly giving Peter the power to excommunicate unrepentant men stuck in sin from the Church, and to forgive repentant men of their sins (bind/loose; Mt 16:19), in this teaching Jesus also gives Peter the ability to extend this power to his successors and to bishops in their local congregations. 

For those stubborn men, confused by evil and unwilling to repent from sin, Jesus directs His men to shun those men, like “a Gentile or tax collector” (those outside the covenant); this is consistent with Paul’s teaching to disassociate with those who persist in grave unrepentant sin (1 Cor 5:9-13). The purpose is pastoral: the hope is that the unrepentant sinner will repent when he is shunned for his sinful rebellion by his brothers in the Holy Catholic Church. Jesus urges men to pray for wayward men who are lost in sin, promising that He hears His men’s prayers, for He is in the midst of them. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Courageously accept what Jesus commands men to do when confronted with a brother stuck in obstinate sin: Person of the Trinity, author of The 10 Commandments, who will die on a Cross to forgive the sins of the repentant, Jesus hates sin; the perfection of Diligence and Prudence, Jesus directs men to follow a thoughtful process to correct the sins of another (Spiritual Works of Mercy: Admonish the Sinner, Instruct the Ignorant); for those who bluntly refuse to repent, the perfection of Justice, Jesus directs men to Shun obstinate sinners and pray for their conversion.

Treat every Catholic man as a true brother

Realize: In contrast to Jesus’ call for Catholic brotherhood, today, the majority of Catholic men do not have meaningful fraternity with other Catholic men and many don’t even think of other Catholic men as their “brothers”; as adopted sons of God the Father through baptism, all baptized Catholic men are spiritual brothers. 

Believe: Reflect upon Catholic Brotherhood (CCC 788, 1271, 2074, 2233, 2790).

Pray: Jesus, Divine King, help me build the Virtue of Fraternity (a part of Justice) so I recognize every Catholic man as my true brother and I work with joy to build deep fraternity with many Catholic brothers in my parish.  

Admonish and instruct those stuck in sin

Realize: Despite Jesus’ explicit command for every Catholic man to correct his brothers who are in obstinate sin, because the modern culture ignores or even celebrates sin, many men, even priests, are afraid to speak the truth out of fear of ridicule or rejection; every Catholic man is called to Instruct the Ignorant and Admonish Sinners (Spiritual Works of Mercy; CCC 2447). 

Believe: Reflect upon your duty to bear Witness to Truth (CCC 932, 2471-2472).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruits of Love, Patience, Kindness, and Generosity so I recognize my Catholic duty to help men stuck in sin to repent and prudently proceed with charity to admonish and instruct sinners in the truth of Christ.