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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is instructing his community in the difficult task of correcting an errant brother or sister. He tells them to avoid the practice of gossiping and complaining to others about a grievance; rather, they should confront the person who has offended them directly and courageously. That way, the difficulty is addressed, the loving concern of the complainant is evident, and the process of rumor, attack, counter-attack, innuendo, and scapegoating is arrested.

Now, if the person does not respond to this loving intervention, “take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Thus, the wider community is involved, but only minimally—enough to bring the offender to repentance. Only if this small circle of the Church is ignored should one bring the complaint to the whole community.

What is so rich here is the pursuit of the issue (since speaking the truth, even when it is dangerous, is essential), coupled with a deep care for the person in question and also for the entire family of the Church (since love is our constant call).