Wednesday, August 12, 2015 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious
Holy 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.”
Meditation: What can we learn from Jesus’ instructions today about how to mend a damaged relationship? If you feel you have been wronged by someone, Jesus says the first step is to speak directly but privately to the individual who has done the harm. One of the worst things we can do is brood over our grievance. This can poison our mind and heart and make it more difficult to go directly to the person who caused the damage. If we truly want to settle a difference with someone, we need to do it face to face. If this fails in its purpose, then the second step is to bring another person or persons, someone who is wise and gracious rather than someone who is hot-tempered or judgmental. The goal is not so much to put the offender on trial, but to persuade the offender to see the wrong and to be reconciled. And if this fails, then we must still not give up, but seek the help of the Christian community. Note the emphasis here is on restoring a broken relationship by seeking the help of other Christians who hopefully will pray and seek a solution for reconciliation based on Christian love and wisdom, rather than relying on coercive force or threat of legal action, such as a lawsuit. Lastly, if even the Christian community fails to bring about reconciliation, what must we do? Jesus seems to say that we have the right to abandon stubborn and obdurate offenders and treat them like social outcasts. The tax-collectors and Gentiles were regarded as “unclean” by the religious-minded Jews and they resorted to shunning them. However we know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus often had fellowship with tax-collectors (as well as other public sinners), ate with them, and even praised them at times! Jesus refuses no one who is open to receive pardon, healing, and restoration. This is what it means to have compassion for someone, which can lead to healing.
Prayer: O God, who made Saint Jane Frances de Chantal radiant with outstanding merits in different walks of life, grant us, through her intercession, that walking faithfully in our vocation, we may constantly be examples of shining light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO, once said: “Compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” In our growing world of independence we walk around life at times with a belief that we are somehow separate from one another. This growing mindset of disconnection from God, other people, and so forth, often leads to a state of imbalance, which can bring about states of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can then lead to other problems and issues. What we fail to recognize is the fundamental belief that we are all connected with one another as children of God, and as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. And therefore recognizing this real dependence on God for everything and this interdependence on one another to help us walk side-by-side on this life’s journey that God has given us is a reminder that we all make mistakes, we say things we should not have, we all support causes and beliefs that are wrong simply because we got caught up in the way of the world instead of embracing the way of God and his son, Jesus Christ. And so extending compassion to one another is a way of reaching out to help each other, to reconcile, to repair any damage, and to help restore one another to a life in Christ. Look back for a moment – in your waywardness in life (yes, we are all guilty of this!) how many times has someone reached out to you in compassion? Isn’t it time for us to imitate Christ and reach out in compassion to someone who has strayed?