Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The theme of charitable correction may be found in today’s gospel, with its admonition to speak kindly first to a person who is in error and if that does not work bring someone along to help make your point. For many, correcting error and admonishing the populace seems to be the general pastime of the Catholic Church. Today’s reading reflects the advice given by St. Ignatius to proceed with great charity in correction, who argued that the best possible interpretation should be put on an idea rather than to presume it is in error. Like today’s gospel, Ignatius advises that correction should be done in charity and compassion.
Both readings note the importance of compassion and charity and both readings point to the role of the church in final arbitration. Neither today’s gospel nor Ignatius advises the philosophical grounding of “anything goes” and that diversity for diversity’s sake is a good thing. Matthew informs his readers that if a private conversation or one limited to a few persons is going nowhere, the conversation should be taken to the church authorities. Likewise, Ignatius recommends charity for those listening to the opinions of others but at the end of the day the famous “Rules for thinking and feeling with the Church” are part of the mix as well.
What may seem to some as the incompatible ingredients of charity and emphasis on individual interpretation set against rules and hierarchical interpretation collapses when we realize that God gives us both an intellect to discern right from wrong and the church to help in this discernment. Whereas, Ignatius always valued diversity of means to the final end of union with God within the Church, diverse goals received the harshest of criticism. Holding what some may argue are opposing forces confuse what Ignatius clarified in the First Principle and Foundation when he identified various means as possibly beneficial to attaining our final end which is union with God. Ignatius firmly believed that the search for truth and the best way search for that truth is a firm love of God and his Church.