Resolving Conflicts

Matthew 18:15-20
Dt 34:1-12 / Psa 66

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.
(Matthew 18:15-16)

Resolve conflicts without enmity,
More than justice employ charity;
Look for ways where we can all agree
For the sake of our Community.

(Jesus said,) “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:15-20)

Reflection

In this chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus first extols the humble as the greatest in God’s eyes. Then He warns anyone who has the moral ascendancy that if he causes any of these “little ones” to sin, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (18:6) Then our Lord reveals how precious all the members of his flock are in His parable of the lost sheep. “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (18:14) Finally, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives a practical lesson on how to handle a wayward member. “If he (still) refuses to listen, treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” (18:17) Which means, expel him from the community.

The elders in our community have a responsibility to teach the members the culture and values of our Church and our Brotherhood. In a loving way, they must counsel those who are in the wrong, encourage those who are lagging in spiritual growth, and help those who are in need of assistance. Our Brotherhood is our extended family, and the elders are like surrogate parents. Their stewardship is essentially the servanthood principle taught by our Lord, and incumbent upon His leaders. If our Lord could wash His apostles’ feet at the last supper, then they must also follow His example by serving their brothers and sisters, by washing away their faults and mistakes through good counsel and well prepared teachings. As Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you if you put it into practice.” (John 13:16-17)

In the Final Judgment we will all have to face God, and we will be evaluated on how well we have served His “little ones” in this life. As a Shepherd, He will separate the sheep from the goats. Those who, in their own personal interests or pride, never served as God’s stewards should, or by their negligence or bad example, caused a sheep to be lost, will face God’s judgment. But those who served others with love and compassion, as Jesus had commanded, will inherit eternal happiness in God’s kingdom. Remember what the Master said: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25:40)

Let none of the members in our community be lost, Father, during our watch; help us to be vigilant as Your shepherds at all times. Amen.

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