.- Correcting the behavior of those gone astray is an essential part of Christian life, said Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday Angelus address Sept. 4.
âThis approach is called fraternal correction: it is not a reaction to injury suffered, but is moved by love for oneâs brother,â said the Pope to pilgrims gathered at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
The Pope made his comments in the light of todayâs Gospel in which Jesus suggests that âif your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.â
The text of the Gospel âtells us that brotherly love also involves a sense of mutual responsibility,â said the Pope, âso if my brother sins against me, I must use love towards him and, first of all, speak to him personally, pointing out that what he has said or done is not good.â
The Pope quoted the 4-5th century theologian, St. Augustine of Hippo, who said Christians cannot be indifferent to the âsevere woundâ a fellow believer may have inflicted upon themselves through sin.
However, St. Augustine also stressed that any subsequent fraternal correction has to be animated by love and not revenge insisting âyou have to forget the hurt you have received, not the wound of your brother.â
If a fraternal correction is rebuffed, said the Pope, then Christians should follow the advice of Jesus - seek the witness of others and, if necessary, the sanction of the wider Church.
âAll this indicates that there is a shared responsibility in the way of Christian life,â said Pope Benedict, âeveryone, aware of their limitations and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and help others with this particular service.â
The Pope suggested this was a reminder of the communal nature of the Christian faith â as confirmed by the subsequent promise of Christ in todayâs Gospel that âif two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.â
For while âpersonal prayer is certainly important, indeed essential,â said the Pope âthe Lord assures his presence in the communityâ at prayer because it âreflects the reality of the Triune God, the perfect communion of love.â
Thus, concluded the Pope, through communal prayer and fraternal correction âwhich requires a lot of humility and simplicity of heartâ we can journey together towards God as âa community truly united in Christ.â