Year A: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 18: 15-20
In any community, there are going to be differences and difficulties. Sometimes, these differences are minor and brought about by clashes in personality. Sometimes, though, they are brought about by someone acting against the interests of the group.
Jesus is setting out some of the rules for living in the Kingdom and knows enough about human nature to know that His own people are not going to be immune from this.
So, today, Matthew lays out some of Jesusí teaching about relationships and what to do when things go wrong.
It is straightforward wisdom - start by trying to work things out on your own - then invite people you can trust to listen and advise - and finally ask the community to make the final judgement.
If someone has hurt another - and refuses to listen and work things out - then, in effect, he or she is excluding themselves from the community.
Jesus then hands on to the other disciples the power to bind and to loose that He gave to Peter earlier in the Gospel. The community also has the gift to discern what is forgiven - and what still needs a further change of heart.
He closes with words that offer comfort and strength - where two or three meet in My name, I shall be there with them. This is not a random meeting of a few Christians coming together - but a gathering of people who have come together in a unity of heart and of purpose.
The Kingdom is to be a place of openness, trust and honesty where differences can be aired and forgiveness given and received.
This is possible only because the single thing that underpins all the rest is love - a love which, at its best, resembles that of Jesus Himself - complete and unconditional.
What does it mean for me?
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