Reflection on Matthew 18:15-20 (14th Sunday after Pentecost)

This week’s Romans and Matthew readings are connected to show how important love and understanding are in our lives.  

I am going to open with a few thoughts about life’s journey and a way we can look at healing, a way to understand another person.

I will still walk with you if you will also walk beside me. We can walk together even though we have our disagreements. Our journey may be longer than we both have thought, but as we walk together, we will become closer and understand each other more.  We continue even though we know the path to understanding and peace will be a long uphill climb. But as we walk together, we do not give up, we walk until we can rejoice together.

From the Epistle of Paul’s Letter to the Romans: (Romans 13:8-14).  Paul calls attention to a lifestyle appropriate for the Christian living in the light of Christ’s teachings. It applies to us all and demands the careful attention of each of us. Paul shows how love is so important to our relationships, with our family, neighbors and even our enemies.

Matthew recalls sayings of Jesus that emphasize the importance of Christians living together in harmony. While there is concern for the individual, the welfare of the church which is the community of faith is also important. It helps to remember that the goal is reconciliation, by using teachings of forgiveness. In today’s world, people often walk away from relationships quickly and easily. Rather than allowing us to just walk away, Jesus calls us to explore possibilities that might lead to reconciliation. He will not let us easily off the hook but requires us to take the initiative. As children of God we are to love one another, and that requires contact and involvement in each other’s lives.  But it is not just because we are all children of God and should be reconciled with each other. It’s because as part of a community we need to live together in love.  It is for us that Jesus says that straightforward communication should be done. It is important we tell the one who wronged us how we feel about what they have done, and we then give them the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, as we set a process of forgiveness in motion.  If the person asks for forgiveness and acknowledges the wrong done, then the issue is to be put to rest.  Then we are following Christ to forgive our brothers and sisters who ask forgiveness. To ask forgiveness is not weakness.  And to grant forgiveness is not to condone what someone has done.  They are merely steps toward reconciliation.  Remember Jesus reconciled the whole world to God by hanging on a cross.  If He can do that for us, surely, we can do this for each other, and for Him. While forgiveness is not necessarily achievable, God does not expect Christians to forget that damage was done and act the same before the offense occurred. But it is impossible to think that a wound can be instantly healed all the time. When possible, this should happen. Forgiveness can be given in a moment, but sometimes it takes time for the heart to heal. Relationships are built on trust and actions. A relationship will never be restored without forgiveness. Remember Jesus sat at the table with tax collectors and sinners. He forgave them, as He forgave the criminal on the cross.

Let us Pray: Creator God, you call us to love and serve you with body, mind, and spirit through loving your creation and our sisters and brothers. Open our hearts in compassion and receive our prayers on behalf of the needs of everyone, the church and the world. This we pray in your Name.  Amen

A Prayer for Labor Day from BCP page 259

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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