Unity in Spirit

Monday, June 8, 2009

sheepMatthew 18:10-20 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. ” Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

This is the gospel reading for the Monday following Pentecost Sunday. This Divine Liturgy is typically not well attended and many miss this special teaching from our Lord in a Liturgical setting. How are we to respond to each others shortcomings; our sinfulness? Jesus clearly outlines for us how we are to respond, a progression  of action, and the reasoning behind the protocol. If we don’t like another persons actions or are offended we are to go to them privately and tell them how we were affected by their actions. Imagine how much nonsense were could avoid if we just followed this first piece of advice. To have the boldness to go directly to the source of our hurt instead of speaking about them behind their back or just going around carrying a grudge. If that doesn’t work then we ask told to go again to that person with two or more people as witnesses. We are not to assume that the witnesses are just there on behalf of the one with the complaint. The witnesses could also be there to mediate between the two or clarify any misunderstandings by either party. If that fails then the matter is to be brought to the Church body.

The most important thing we can draw from this gospel reading is that our Lord wants us to put great effort into reconciliation. It can be so easy for us to write somebody off or to just remain mad. But Jesus calls  us the sheep of His fold, and He wants doesn’t want to lose any of us!  This topic always reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son when after the younger brother comes home after squandering his inheritance on loose living and given a feast in celebration for his return how the older son responds. The older son becomes upset with his father for giving so much attention to the return of his younger son when the older son was always faithful yet seemed to go unnoticed. The father’s reply speaks volumes of the generosity of God, “Everything I have is yours!” The older son is being invited to celebrate the reconciliation of his younger brother. When I hear this gospel I envision the feast for the son as the Kingdom of God. The older brother is standing before the entrance witnessing the glory of the eternal Kingdom but yet refusing to enter because he could not be reconciled with his brother. The older brother could have been the most righteous an faithful person to God but was unwilling to be reconciled with his brother and therefore denies himself communion with God because it also meant communion with his brother. The father pleaded with his son to enter into his joy. I try to picture myself before the banquet doors and I peer in at people who have cause pain or hurt in my life and I wonder if I am able to cross the threshold if invited. The Father’s joy is our reconciliation.

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