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Steps to reconciliation

 

reflections today

Gospel Reading: Mt 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.”

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The first is confrontation in private. If a person feels dishonored or offended, he is to confront the sinner in private to avoid placing the alleged offense in the public arena. If the perception of dishonor has been cleared (not intentionally intended, or accepted with the petition for forgiveness), the conflict has been successfully defused.

The second is negotiation with two or three witnesses. The conflict has become semiprivate and legal with the calling of witnesses (cf Dt 17:1-7). The witnesses have a serious role to play and should never bear false witness (cf Dt 19:15-21). It is hoped that the witnesses-negotiators succeed where private efforts failed.

The third, and last, resort is adjudication. The event has become public, and at stake are the honor of the individual and the good of the community. The community acts as the final arbiter. If the offender disregards the community’s judgment, he is expelled and no longer treated as a part of God’s people. In a culture where life depended on the support networks of family and community, to be excommunicated and lumped with “the enemies” would be the ultimate tragedy..

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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