Binding & Loosing


       "Touching our loved ones inside the Body of Christ"


"And I say also unto thee.   That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven:  and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 

(Matthew  I6 : I8 - I9).

Whilst listening to this tenet of the Gospel being quoted over and over again since my earliest years, I had never heard it being preached nor had I ever enquired as to its exact meaning.   My understanding of it was vague to say the least, and so I avoided using the words, 


Exactly two weeks ago ( I have reason to remember the date), I decided to ask The Lord to clarify it for me and this is exactly what He did.   ( I mention the time spent in waiting for an answer, to give you a concrete example of the speed in which He answers our prayers and the intense interest He has in all our requests).


On opening a copy of

The Catholic Herald  ( June II 2OIO ) 

 this article leaped up at me: 

"Touching our loved ones inside the body of Christ - loosing and binding" 

by the brilliant writer Fr. Ronald Rolheiser.

 (visit  And so,


 Personally, I am gobsmacked.  When he first began writing for this paper 28 years ago, he wrote a piece entitled: 

" Binding and Loosing Inside the Body of Christ . "

Of all the pieces he had ever written , he received the most feedback on that.  This is what he had to say:

"Imagine you are a parent who has children who no longer go to church, no longer pray, no longer observe the Church's moral commandments, no longer respect your faith, and are perhaps even openly agnostic or atheistic.   What can you do?  You can continue to pray for them and you can live out your own faith convictions, hoping that the example of your life will have power where your works are ineffectual.  You can do that,


You can continue to love and forgive them and, insofar as they receive that love and forgiveness, they are receiving love and forgiveness


Since you are part of the Body of Christ, when you touch them, Christ is touching them.  When you love them, Christ is loving them. When you forgive them, Christ is forgiving them. Part of the wonder of the incarnation is the astounding fact  that we




 bind  on earth will be bound also in heaven; and whatever YOU

 loose upon earth will be loosed also in heaven. Whose sins 


 forgive they are forgiven.

If you are part of the Body of Christ, when you forgive someone, he or she is forgiven.   If you love someone, he or she is being loved by Christ because the Body of Christ is not just the body of Jesus but is also the body of believers.  To be touched , loved and forgiven  by a member of the body of believers is to be touched, loved and forgiven by Christ.    Hell is possible only when someone has put himself completely out of the range of love and forgiveness so as to render himself incapable of being loved, and forgiven . And this is not so much a question of rejecting explicit religious or moral teaching as it is of rejecting love as it is offered among the community of the sincere.  Put more simply : if someone whom you love strays from the Church in terms of practice and morality, as long as


that person and hold him or her in love and forgiveness, he or she is touching "the hem  of Christ's garment", is being held to the Body of Christ, and is being forgiven by God, irrespective of his or her official relationship to the Church.  How?

They are touching the Body of Christ  because your touch is  Christ's touch.  When you touch someone, unless that person actively rejects your love and forgiveness, he or she is relating to the Body of Christ.  And this is true beyond death;  if someone close to you is in a state which, externally at least, has him or her at odds with the visible Church, your love and forgiveness will continue to bind that person to the Body of Christ and will continue to offer forgiveness to that individual even after death.     

In the Incarnation, God takes on human flesh in Jesus, in the Eucharist, and in all who are sincere in faith. The incredible power and mercy that came into our world in Jesus is still with us, at least if we choose to activate it. We are The Body of Christ. What Jesus did for us , we can do for each other.   Our love and forgiveness are the cords that connect our loved ones to God, to salvation and to the community of saints ,even when they are no longer walking on the path of explicit faith.

Too good to be true?  Yes, surely.  But how else to describe the mystery of the Incarnation." 

(visit: ) 

Walter Brueggemann has this to say:   The prophetic tradition in Scripture reminds us that there are three great virtues:   Generosity, hospitality and forgiveness. Conversely,  our culture invokes us to guard possessions, protect ourselves and hold grudges. 

Most people do not achieve their freedom in the Lord because they refuse to forgive.

I am He that blotted out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.  ( Isaiah 43 - 25 ).

I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.    Return unto Me for I have redeemed thee. (Isaiah 44-22).

 "The Good Shepherd was someone who cared.

 Blessed are those who care:  they will let people know they are loved.

Blessed are those who are gentle:  they will help people to grow as the sun helps the buds to unfold.

Blessed are those who listen: they will lighten many a burden.

Blessed are those who know how to let go:  they will have the joy of seeing people find themselves.

Blessed are those who, when nothing can be done or said, do not walk away, but remain to provide a comforting and supportive presence:  they will help the sufferer to bear the unbearable.

Blessed are those who recognise their own need to receive:   they will be able to give all the better.

And blessed are those who give without hope of return:    

THEY WILL GIVE PEOPLE AN EXPERIENCE  OF GOD. "When we forgive we free ourselves of the burden of bitterness and we free the other person of the burden of guilt. But our forgiveness must come from the heart, which means it must be true, sincere, and warm.   A cold forgiveness is not much use.   Forgiveness should start now.   Putting it off deepens the wound,  prolongs bitterness  and postpones happiness.   Life is short, time is fleeing.   To-day is the day to forgive.   Lord, deliver us from the poison of bitterness, and give us the peace to forgive from the heart those who have offended us.   Then we will know the warmth of your forgiveness.


The quality of mercy is not strain'd;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.   It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.   'Tis mightiest in the mighty;  it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.   It is enshrined in the hearts of kings.   It is an attribute of God Himself.  And earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice.   Therefore, though justice be thy plea, consider this - that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation.    We do pray for mercy, and the same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy. (William Shakespeare).


Anita Kilbride-Jones


St Pauls Bay,Malta.



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