REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
September 6, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.” Matthew 18:15
Jesus gives instructions for correcting another, gives authority to bind and loose, and promises where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
This passage above offers the first of three steps Jesus offers to reconcile with someone who has sinned against you. The steps Jesus offers are as follows: 1) Speak privately to the person. 2) Bring two or three others to help with the situation. 3) Bring it to the Church. If after trying all three steps you are not able to reconcile, then Jesus says, “…treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”
The first and most important point to mention in this process of reconciliation is that we should keep the sin of another quiet, between them and us, until we have sincerely tried to reconcile. This is hard to do! So often when someone sins against us, the first temptation we have is to go forth and tell others about it. This may be done out of hurt, anger, a desire for revenge, or the like. So the first lesson we should learn is that the sins another commits against us are not details we have a right to tell others about, at least not at first.
The next important steps offered by Jesus do involve others and the Church. But not so that we can express our anger, gossip or criticism or to bring them public humiliation. Rather, the steps of involving others are done so as to assist another in repentance, so that the person in error sees the gravity of the sin. This takes humility on our part. It requires a humble attempt to help them not only see their error but to also change.
The final step, if they do no change, is to treat them like a Gentile or tax collector. But even this must be understood properly. How do we treat a Gentile or tax collector? We treat them with a desire for their continued conversion. We treat them with continued respect, while at the same time acknowledge that we are not “on the same page.”
Reflect, today, upon any relationship you have that requires healing and reconciliation. Seek to follow this humble process given by our Lord and continue to remain hopeful that the grace of God will prevail.
Lord, give me a humble and merciful heart so that I may reconcile with those who have sinned against me. I forgive them, dear Lord, just as You have forgiven me. Give me the grace to seek reconciliation in accord with Your perfect will. Jesus, I trust in You.