Daily Reflection – 8/14/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “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. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18: 15-20)
Jesus is telling us that there is no room in the kingdom of heaven for those who cannot find it in their hearts to forgive, not once or three times but always. As always, Jesus calls us to something diametrically opposed to the prevailing wisdom of the world. The Gospel then questions each one of us. Do we put limits on our forgiveness? Do we forgive relatives and perhaps friends but other people we want removed from our sight? Or do we still live with the Old Testament spirituality which says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?
Most of us developed and honed our personal response to being sinned against at a very young age. We didn’t even know we were developing a personal response. We may have modeled our response on how our parents responded in these types of situations. We may have learned how to manipulate others. Or we simply may have decided to keep our distance from the individuals who sinned against us (if that was an option). Or perhaps you were taught to talk with the person who had sinned against you and work it out?
Jesus isn’t interested in who is right or who is wrong. He only cares about getting a broken relationship fixed. Our concerns about who is right and who is wrong often lead to giving up on relationships with others. Our natural response is to wage war with the other person, but that’s not part of the blueprint God has for our lives-and that blueprint is the Bible. God’s blueprint for our lives includes having conflicting parties sit down face to face and reconcile. The process of reconciliation is helped by prayer. When we are involved in conflict, we need to seek direction in prayer. If an outcome or resolution is reached through prayer, it will be accepted by God. Living a Christian life within a community of faith is not easy and demands some maturity from us. We have to determine how to love one another. It is more than being nice. Real love in our world requires informed thought and tough choices. Real love in our world flows from the heart of Christ. Real love in our world flows when our hearts are as loving and forgiving as His. Can you say that?
Prayer of The Day
We thank you Lord for this teaching. We thank you for the many examples of people who live this teaching every day of their lives, persons always willing to give another chance. They teach us that it is possible to live the forgiveness which is an expression of the forgiving love of God for his people, the forgiving love of Christ for his Church. Help us Lord to conquer the desire for vengeance in our hearts and help us always to remember how often you forgive us.
Today may be a good day to ask ourselves: how do I respond when I feel sinned against by another? Do we bind another to us with our anger or resentment? Or do we “loose the other person” by striving to “let the hurt, anger or jealousy go” by talking with the individual? The gift is we can always change our automatic responses to certain situations. It typically takes a concerted effort. It is so easy to slip back into old patterns.