Daily Reflections

Matthew 18:15-20  •  St Clare (Memorial)

We do not have to learn how to sin and to hurt other people. For most of us, the ability comes all too naturally. The number of ways that we can sin against others and they can sin against us is so great that a web of suffering is created. Yet we are called to live in the world, relating to one another as brothers and sisters. There is plenty of opportunity for disharmony. Jesus knew this and gave practical advice on how to resolve conflict and maintain discipline in the Church.

Firstly, he tells us to deal with problems individually if possible. This course of action could be described as ‘speaking the truth in love’. But there are pitfalls even at this stage. Resentments that we harbour against others may be due more to our pride, jealousy and sensitivity than to the faults of others. Sometimes we can find ourselves being irritated easily. It is said that we should make a list of things about other people that irritate us and then study that list, because it contains all the features in our own character that we most despise about ourselves. Still, other people do sometimes hurt us, and the remedy that Jesus prescribes is not a display of intimidating anger, or an attempt to manipulate or retaliate, but simply to speak the truth.

Next, Jesus describes situations where the offender is unrepentant. Once again it is the truth, supported by witnesses, that underpins the course of action to be taken. If the offender is ultimately recalcitrant, he or she is to be shunned as if a ‘tax collector’.

Finally, Jesus makes promises that speak of his closeness to his disciples through the ages. Any group of people meeting together in his name have the assurance that God will listen to and grant their request. And Jesus himself will be present among them. It is a truth that we should remember when we struggle, as we may so often, with distractions in prayer, and feel that our prayers go unheard by a God who seems to be far away from us. The Lord is always with us. He is always listening.

‘Lord, you call us to love one another. Help me to be more aware of my own faults than those of others. But give me the courage and the love to speak the truth to others when I need to do so.’

Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22
Psalm 112(113):1-6  •  Matthew 18:15-20

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