Peace and grace to you!
In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel is placed in a position of responsibility before God. Part of Ezekiel’s responsibility includes confronting wrong doing and giving instruction when necessary so that those who err may turn back to God and away from their faults. The difficulty for Ezekiel is that God will hold him accountable if he fails to point out the error by remaining silent.
We receive a similar challenge in the Gospel but Jesus gives us some excellent additional advice by outlining a method that actually works very well in most cases. If you have ever had a conflict or disagreement with another Christian or person of good will, you have no doubt discovered how well Jesus’ method works! Seldom does it happen that other people must become involved. Frequently, both parties want resolution and the matter is quickly settled and greater friendship results. However, this is not always the case. Jesus’ instructions show us the way to proceed when a challenge continues, if it persists without resolution, it is best to separate from that person.
Jesus is as serious about sin as he is about peace and our offering to God. He asks us to reflect within ourselves to discern if another has anything against us—we must be humble and transparent before God, who knows us through and through, and go make an apology to that person. Most of us try to be honest and sincere in this regard. Some have a great deal of pride, they remember every offense committed against them and never forget! Yet they refuse to admit they have done anything wrong—like the last case scenario that Jesus indicates today. Sadly, they have few if any friends and poor relationships because they hurt people and refuse to apologize or change their attitude.
When someone sins against us, there is a responsibility to let the other person know. Sometimes other witnesses have a shared responsibility to point out the fault so the offender can make an apology and amend their ways. Sometimes it’s easier to remain silent without confronting them for their behavior. But Jesus’ instructions are intended to not allow hurt or anger to grow and create a gap caused by sin. Jesus wants us to be happy and have good relationships with other people. Following Jesus always leads to the way of peace and reconciliation. It requires love for God first, for God is above all things—as we say in our act of contrition. It also requires love of neighbor—for God asks us to love them.
In our “Love Dare Journey” many of us discovered new and effective ways to deepen our relationships—it brought us a lot of joy! Perhaps there is something in Jesus’ words for you today that will help you lead a happier, fuller life! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter