Gospel Matthew 18:15-20
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." The Gospel of the Lord
+Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit that I love what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen
"Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." Jesus said to his disciples and to us, "If"... the first most important word in the whole teaching lesson from our Lord, can be found in the first word, "If." If means that there is a possibility I am wrong, If means, there is some work I must do first, before doing anything else, to see if by chance I misread something here. If means there is a possibility that my own sinfulness is 'skewing' what actually was said or done to me and perhaps I need to go within my heart first before I go anywhere else. If we are sincere, we would admit that quite often we skip this preliminary step. If we would have, perhaps we wouldn't do one thing further. This step is called prayer. Prayer before reacting and acting is very important and this is the first thing we learn from Jesus in this lesson.
After we have done in all honesty this preliminary step we are told to; "go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." This first real step of 'going' is a step away from self, and a step towards the other. For me that comes down to one word-Forgiveness. Forgiveness always gets you moving forward. Away from self and towards the other. Away from the hurt and pain one has endured and towards the other because loves moves you to do so. To 'go' means, I must leave myself, and where I am and go to where the other is , there is no time to wait for their apology, I must go to them and seek to help them to see the truth, to see what is separating them from God, from others and from me because of their action/words etc. It is going to them, with their good in mind, and a willingness to suffer from them, for them, because I love them.
The other part of that is, to speak to them alone. Why does Jesus tell us to go alone? It seems to me, that the deepest human conversations take place in intimacy and there is nothing more intimate than trying to speak to another about something sinful they have done. To go alone to them, is to come 'unarmed' so to speak, vulnerable, simple, and without support, without 'back-up', without defense, just seeking in all truth, the other's good. There is something very simple and beautiful in that brave loving action. Quite oftentimes, this first step, when supported by the preliminary step, is sufficient. If only we would have the Christian courage and maturity to go within first and listen to the voice of God, deep in the heart and then to go alone to the one who hurt us. Perhaps many 'emotional explosions' and misunderstandings wouldn't even happen, if we didn't involve all those people we often do, to give us support, essentially, if we only treated each other more humanly.
Question: Are you and I willing to suffer from and for the person who has just hurt you? Can you keep it to yourself not sharing with others for consolation and solace but just keep it to yourself and bear it quietly, patiently prayerfully? Did you do fast for them? Pray for them? Did you silently bear it? To bear wrongs patiently in silence-prayerfully is an act of Mercy. Mercy draws down Grace! Is there anyone in your life, who you need to do this with now?
Prayer: Jesus silent in my heart, teach me to love. Give me a heart so generous and great that I am patient in times of suffering and I willfully choose the good of the other over my own easing of pain. I ask this in your name Jesus . Amen