REFLECTION ON THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – A
(Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)
By: Fr. Raul Cuyag
The Gospel gives the process on how to deal with conflict and broken relations for reconciliation.
- RECONCILE WITH THE OFFENDER BY YOURSELF PRIVATELY. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him.” This step demands humility on the part of the one who is being offended. The action is to be done privately in order to defend the offender and to prevent the “tsismis” to spread out that may destroy the good reputation of the person. The ultimate purpose for this step is not condemnation but fraternal correction. In fact, the first reading warns us that if we do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but God will hold us responsible for his death (Ez. 33: 7-8). Reconciliation will take place if we will take the first step to reach out the person who has done wrong to us. Let us approach the person and let us voice our concern in a proper way and must be done in love in order to win over our erring brother. If we speak the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow in every way to Christ who is the Head (Eph. 4:15). This would give the person a better opportunity to clarify the situation or to seek forgiveness for the offence and in turn we offer to him forgiveness and peace.
- RECONCILE WITH THE OFFENDER WITH COMPANIONS. “If he does not listen, take two or three witnesses along with you.” If the first step does not accomplish the needed results, the mediation of another person who can help to resolve the conflict is important. Our goal is not to win an argument but to win our fellow believer to reconciliation. No one can be condemned forever. Each one of us should be given a chance to mend the broken pieces of our life.
- RECONCILE WITH THE OFFENDER WITH THE ENTIRE BELIEVING COMMUNITY. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.” If the first and second steps failed, the entire believing community should work to settle dispute and to reintegrate the offender into its fold. The Church should initiate pastoral care that is merciful and helpful for her erring members. Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” said that our erring brothers and sisters need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel. Every member of the Church is accountable to our brothers and sisters especially in bringing them back into the community.
- Can you identify the people who hurt you?
- How do you deal with the conflict and broken relationships with your brothers and sisters?
- Do you correct your erring brothers and sisters in a fraternal way?
- Do you offer them forgiveness and peace?