“Death is swallowed up in victory.” But death is not simply eliminated. There is a constant temptation in the Christian life to believe that since we love God and pray for things to go well, that we will somehow be spared from suffering. We tend to grow accustomed to this life, the many blessings we’ve received, all the projects and work we have to do, the planning needed etc. We can forget that Baptism is a sacrament that also represents death. Jeremiah the prophet was plunged into a cistern where he was sure to die, then lifted back out again. That’s what happens with baptism: being plunged into the waters in which we were certain to drown and perish, only to be brought back out again. Jesus talks about the baptism with which he longs to be baptised – He is referring to His Passion and Death. He does not long for suffering because He somehow enjoys it though – it is the joy of eternal life that draws Him through death.
INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW:
Suppose you see someone who is searching out physicians. You probably would conjecture that he is sick. In the same way also, when you see either man or woman searching out information on the laws of dissolving marriages, you might not be far from wrong in conjecturing that some alienation has occurred between them and that one or the other may be wanton.
So does the question of this passage arise out of alienation.
INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW:
“Male and female.” Not male and many females, so that a man is allowed to possess many wives, nor males and a female, so that one woman is allowed to have many husbands. No, he said male and female, so that a woman should think that no man has been made in the world except one, and a man should think that no woman has been made in the world except one. For it was not two or three ribs that he took from the side of man; and he did not make two or three women. When, therefore, a second or a third wife stands before your face, as then Eve stood before Adam, how could you say to them, “This is bone from my bones”? For even if that woman is truly a rib, it is still not yours. If you have not said this to her, you do not affirm that she is your wife; but if you have said it, you lie.
He does not say “accuse him” or “punish him” or “take him to court.” He says “correct him.” For he is possessed, as it were, by some stupor, and drunk in his anger and disgrace. The one who is healthy must go to the one who is sick. You must conduct your judgment of him privately. Make your cure easy to accept. For the words “correct him” mean nothing other than help him see his indiscretion. Tell him what you have suffered from him.
What then if he does not listen, if he stubbornly flares up? Call to your side someone else or even two others, so that two witnesses may corroborate all that’s said. For the more shameless and boldfaced he is, so much the more must you be earnest toward his cure, not toward satisfying your anger and hurt feelings. For when a physician sees the sickness unyielding, he does not stand aside or take it hard but then is all the more earnest. That then is what Christ orders us to do. You appeared too weak since you were alone, so become stronger with the help of others. Two are sufficient to reprove the wrongdoer. Do you see how he seeks the interest not of the aggrieved party alone but also that of the one who caused the grief? For the person injured may be the one who is more taken captive by passion. He becomes the one that is diseased and weak and infirm.
This effort may occur many times, as he attempts to lead him first alone and then with others. If he persists, then make the effort with the whole congregation. “Tell it,” he says, “to the church.” If he had sought the interest of the aggrieved alone, he would not have told him to approach the sick individual seventy-seven times. He would not have attempted so many times or brought so many treatments to the malady. He might have just let him be if he persisted uncorrected from the first meeting. But instead he shows us how to seek his cure once, twice, and many times: first alone, then with two, then with many more.