MT 18:15-20 is today’s Gospel, and it has quite a bit to say. We hear Jesus explain to the disciples how to handle a dispute between you and someone you know. First you go off with this person privately and try and work it out. You can’t get satisfaction than you bring in people who know what is going on to try and resolve the situation. If that does not work, you go before the Church.
Many times this is the focus of homilies. Read just a few lines further and you have the bound and loose discourse. These two aspects are linked and should be linked.
The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.
Jesus is telling us that how we think of a difficult situation is going to guide our reaction, responses, and remedies. Think about difficult situations we have had that did not work out well; we are very likely going to find that our thoughts were very negative, and the results that were created were very negative.
Every day we are binding: declaring it forbidden, and loosing: allowing. Jesus is telling us to be very careful with these because if our action, which are always prayers, are done in the heat of emotion we may create something we do not want. Of course, that does not mean that through prayer, spiritual-emotional work, as Jesus describes in the earlier part of the Gospel, the situation can’t be turned around. Jesus is warning us that there is great power in what we do, how we think, how we act/react.
Here is a story from my life that illustrates the Gospel: I remember when Greg and I were first married I was so angry at something he had done I blurted out God damn you! Greg looked at me and asked why I would want God to damn him? Being made aware of what I had done, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother, I was very embarrassed at what I had done. I apologized. But still the damage was done. I had cursed my husband to enteral damnation. It wasn’t what I wanted to do; I was just angry. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Think back to times when you blurted something out in anger, (bound). Did it help or hurt? Now think about times when you carefully examined the situation and then chose your words well, (loosed). Which was better?