The Supreme Rule Regarding Fraternal Correction is Love, says Pope Francis

The Pontiff also warned that we must ask ourselves what leads us to correct a brother or sister and if we are not, in some way, co-responsible for their error.

Newsroom (01/11/2021 8:34 PM, Gaudium Press) At the General Audience on Wednesday, November 3, held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis continued the cycle of catecheses on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians.

Explaining the significance of believing in Jesus, the Pontiff says that it is “to follow him, to go behind him along his way, just as the first disciples did. And at the same time, it means avoiding the opposite way, that of egoism, of seeking one’s own interests, which the Apostle calls the ‘desire of the flesh'” (v. 16).

Walk according to the Spirit

Francis emphasizes that the guide on this path on Christ’s road is the Spirit, and according to the Apostle, walking according to the Spirit means allowing oneself to be guided by Him. This image can be helpful to understand the merit of the Apostle’s words ‘to walk according to the Spirit’, ‘allow ourselves to be guided’ by Him. They are expressions indicating an action, a movement, a dynamism that prevents us from halting at the first difficulties, but elicit confidence in the strength that comes from on high'”, he affirmed.

The Pope assured that “Trodding along this way, the Christian acquires a positive vision of life. This does not mean that the evil present in the world disappears, or that the negative impulses of our egoism and pride diminish. Rather, it means that belief in God is always stronger than our resistance and greater than our sins. And this is important: to believe that God is greater, always. Greater than our resistances, greater than our sins.”

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Pastors who walk with the people

According to the Holy Father, the Apostle Paul, despite being certain that Christ lives in him, is convinced that he has not yet reached the goal, the summit of the mountain. For this reason, he does not place himself above his community but walks with everyone, giving a concrete example of the need to obey God, corresponding more and better to the Spirit’s guidance.

“And how beautiful it is when we find pastors who journey with their people, who do not get tired – ‘No, I am more important, I am a pastor. You…’, ‘I am a priest’, ‘I am a bishop’, with their noses in the air. No: pastors who journey with the people. This is very beautiful. It does the soul good, the Pontiff added.

Fraternal Correction

In dealing with the desires of the flesh, the Apostle warns that although it is an easy temptation to resort to rigid precepts, this can cause one to leave the path of freedom and, instead of climbing to the summit, to turn back down. Walking the path of the Spirit requires, first of all, making room for grace and charity. Make room for God’s grace without fear.

St. Paul exhorts the Galatians to take on each other’s difficulties and, if someone makes a mistake, to use meekness. An attitude “quite different than gossiping, like when we see something and we talk behind the persons back about it, right? To gossip about our neighbour. No, this is not according to the Spirit. What is according to the Spirit is being gentle with a brother or sister when correcting him or her and keeping watch over ourselves so as not to fall into those sins, that is, humility.  How easy it is to cricitise others! But there are people who seem to have a degree in gossip. Each and every day they criticize others,” the Pope commented.

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The Pontiff also warned that we must ask ourselves what leads us to correct a brother or sister and whether we are not in some way co-responsible for their error. The supreme rule regarding fraternal correction is love: to want the good of our brothers and sisters. It takes a lot of time to also tolerate others’ problems, others’ defects 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,” he concluded. (EPC)

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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