To be read: February 28, June 30, October 31
If a brother is found stubborn or disobedient or proud or murmuring, or opposed to anything in the Holy Rule, and defies the orders of his Superiors, 2let him be admonished by his Superiors twice privately, according to the command of our Lord (cf Mt 18:15-16). 3If he does not amend, he must be rebuked publicly before all. 4But if he does not reform even then, and he understands what the penalty is, let him be excommunicated. 5However, if he lacks understanding, let him undergo corporal punishment.
One of the most common errors we make as Christians is that we equate being nice with being Christian. St. Paul (Gal. 3:1-5; 5:2-12), and even Jesus Himself (John 2:13-21), had some harsh words for those who erred and strayed from God’s Way. When we err on the side of being nice we can begin to tolerate sin, and such tolerance is sin itself. Benedict advises patience, not tolerance. Following Jesus’ command in Mathew 18:15f, he admonishes that the one found in error be confronted twice privately, but if he does not amend his ways he must be “rebuked publicly before all.” If one does not change, excommunication is the only remaining option.
Restoration is always the goal of discipline. But to restore one to the fulness of the Body without repentance and amendment of life is to set that soul and the whole Body in danger. There are degrees of fault, and we shall look at those in the next chapter. But suffice it to say that, we must “prefer Christ before all” (RB 72:11). When we allow our temporal friendships to blind us to the sins we witness in others, and even the sins we ourselves commit, then we have placed our worldly relationships before the Love of Christ.
One thought on “Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 23”
Our greatest act of love is sometimes expressed in a loving yet firm correction of another member of the family of God.
You are right on target, my brother. Restoration is the goal of discipline but repentance is the first step.