There are five great discourses in the Gospel of Matthew:
Sermon on the Mount (5-7)
Missionary Instruction (10)
Parables Plentiful (13)
Community Life (18)
End Times (22-24).
Matthew, in fact, develops the first ever rule of life for a Christian community.
He does this using a symmetrical technique.
Think of an arc, with two foundation stones, one on the left and one on the right, and a keystone at the top, stopping the structure from collapsing.
The foundation stone on the left is ‘conversion unlimited.’
John the Baptist insisted on moral conversion, while Jesus insisted on filial conversion – becoming increasing aware of God as Father – we as children. It’s all about trust – a lifelong journey.
The foundation stone on the right is ‘forgiveness unlimited.’
We are called to forgive always and everywhere.
Today’s Gospel is in the middle of the arc.
What do we do when people start to deviate from the rule of life?
We go to them – one on one – to try and help. If that doesn’t work, then go with two or three others.
Communities suffer if people do the wrong thing without reproach.
People will no longer be attracted to our way of life.