I've hit a stumbling block with today's Gospel

As I listened to the Gospel today I was hit with something I’ve never noticed before and hope someone can help me because I can’t make sense of it given what I’ve read many times on the Catholic understanding of this story. I’m sorry this is long.

It’s Matthew 18, starting with verse 15. I’m sure you all know it talks about what one should do if he sins (eventually going to the church for guidance). The, Jesus says ''Amen, I say to you whatever you bind on earth.…". etc. I have always undestood that Jesus gave this power to Peter when he gave him the keys…- no problem there…I understand that. . In this text, he also gives it to his Apostles. No problem there with me either. So, when the magisterium works in conjunction with the Pope, we are bound; or if the Pope speaks infallibly we’re bound. Again no problem - I’ve used this explanation many times with people (hopefully correctly).

But, here is where I faltered today. In verse 19, Jesus, still talking to the same people says ‘….I say to you, *whenever 2 of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted…whever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them’.

*Here is my problem…if Jesus was giving the power to bind/loose to the apostles, why in the next verse -still using the word ‘you’ and talking to the same people, does the church not say that he is only talking about the apostles (and their successors) when he says that when 2 or 3 of you are gathered in my name there I am. I’ve always understand that the ‘you’ in this particular verse means anyone. But that doesn’t seem to be consistent, since just before this verse the ‘you’ for binding and losing does not apply to ‘anyone’.

The way I see this verse, it looks like it could be taken two ways - first, with Jesus addressing the apostles. They have been given the powers to continue with His Word, thus, this insures that they stay consistant with the Word that Christ gave them. The second way would be to Christ’s people in general - being that we are all called to be priestly people to the followers of Christ. When we gather, we gather as one, believing and worshipping in the same gospel that Christ handed down to all his people and the apostles. I don’t really see an inconsistancy here - the apostles and the priestly people of his Church all work in union and in conjunction with each other.

Just my humble opinion. :slight_smile:

God Bless! :thumbsup:

[quote=Tonks40]The way I see this verse, it looks like it could be taken two ways - first, with Jesus addressing the apostles. They have been given the powers to continue with His Word, thus, this insures that they stay consistant with the Word that Christ gave them. The second way would be to Christ’s people in general - being that we are all called to be priestly people to the followers of Christ. When we gather, we gather as one, believing and worshipping in the same gospel that Christ handed down to all his people and the apostles. I don’t really see an inconsistancy here - the apostles and the priestly people of his Church all work in union and in conjunction with each other.

Just my humble opinion. :slight_smile:

God Bless! :thumbsup:
[/quote]

What seems inconsistent to me (although I’m sure there’s an explanation) is that Jesus did not give people in general the authority to bind and loose…only the Apostles were given this authority (through this verse). But, immedidatley following this verse, when Jesus says ‘wheneverr 2 or 3 of you are gathered in my name’, the Church does not say this ‘you’ only applies to the Apostles -but to people in general. How does the ‘you’ change it’s meaning within the same context?

You are not alone in your confusion about who these verses are addressed to. In A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, edited by Dom Bernard Orchard M.A., published by Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1953, page 884, it says that verses 15-17 of Matthew chapter 18 were addressed, in the singular, to any Christian and in verse 18 our Lord addresses the Apostles, not the members of the Church at large, and then for verses 19-20 it says:
Though the connexion with the preceding may be loose (cf. “again I say to you”) it seems probable that the words in Matthew’s context, still have reference to the Apostles. They appear to guarantee efficacious help for any agreed course of action* (Greek: pragma)* concerning which the Apostles ask divine assistance. Most commentators, however, refer our Lord’s promise to the prayer of the faithful in general and refuse any close connexion with 18.

Verses 18-20, which use the terms “dêsête” (bind) and “lu_sête” (abolish), are framed by the discussion of the appropriate course of action when a brother has been sinning, in vv. 15-7, 21-35, and should not, therefore, be read as separate from that discussion. The passage as a whole sets out a framework for dealing with transgressions, and it does this while laying significant emphasis upon the communal, rather than individual, management of the problem. Notably, the word “ekklesia” (church) is used here, and it is never used anywhere else in the Gospels except in Mt 16:18, where Jesus talks about the church that he will build. Thus, the passage in question is not about the exact identity of the people who will have the authority to bind and abolish, but rather about the fact that believers were not to rush around thinking that they could or should do so independently. This is an instruction which reappears in Galatians 6:1, which says, “If a man is overtaken in some transgression, you the spiritual ones restore such a one”. This went right back to the Torah, with Deuteronomy 19:15 saying, “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offence he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (see also Dt 17:6, 2 Co 13:1)

Elzee,

One thing to note is that the word “you” doesn’t appear in the statement “Wherever two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” So that is a general statement.

I’ve always had problems with the promise that “whenever two of you agree on something it shall be granted.” Specifically, I’ve had a lot of problems with it not being true–at least, not on the face of it. I daresay this is a very common experience.

  • Liberian

The way I see it is that Peter has the Keys to Heavan, whereas we have the keys to Earthly matters through prayers with others.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.