Commentary on the Gospel of
This verse of the Bible is quoted by St. Benedict in his Holy Rule in the chapter regarding the Abbot. He is describing how the Abbot should treat his monks and this is a beautiful example of compassion which St. Benedict demands from the Abbot. It means that you do not further humiliate a person when that person is already down. There is a tendency in all of us to be a bully who keeps on humiliating a person. A bully is actually a coward. If the person being bullied just meekly accepts the humiliation the bully is encouraged to continue the bullying but if the person fights back, the bully stops. Those of us who are in a position of authority and have the duty to discipline or reprimand people must remember that discipline is not primarily for punishing but for educating the person to learn from his or her mistake. Much less should it be an opportunity to show one’s power over the other person. There is also a point when one sees that the person is already suffering very much (like a broken reed) and St. Benedict admonishes the superior to stop at that point so that the person will not be totally crushed.