by Fr. Andrew Kelly
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY ORDINAL TIME – SEPTEMBER 7, 2014
The Jesus portrayed in Matthew’s Gospel demands absolute and ongoing reconciliation and forgiveness among Jesus’ followers.
Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20) presents a process of reconciliation that was apparently followed by Matthew’s community.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
“But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
“If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
The goal is reconciliation and not revenge or punishment. Thus the process must be prayerfully anchored in the Christ who lives at the center of the community.
The Gospel concludes: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
When the believing community prayerfully remembers the Christ presence, reconciliation and forgiveness becomes possible. But the first step must always be the prayerful remembering.
(Father Andrew Kelly is a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport.)