The Gospel Approach to Reconciliation

Today’s Gospel account speaks of a very practical issue: how to act when someone treats us badly. This has been a problem since the formation of the early Church. The Gospel gives us a way of handling such situations. First of all, let’s take a look at the way the injured party usually goes about solving the problem.

We begin by keeping it to ourselves and pretend that all is well. Meanwhile we brood over the hurt and this tends to magnify it. This can lead to cutting the offender off as a sort of revenge.

Eventually, unable to keep it to ourselves, we begin to tell others about it. We bring them in, not as advisors, but as people who will agree with our understanding of the situation and sympathize with us. The last person to hear about the hurt is usually the one who caused it.

The Gospel account shows us another approach. We are told to confront the person. In fact, we have a duty to do so in order to resolve the issue. Failure to do so is actually a lack of Christian charity for the person. Confrontation involves risk and courage. However, sometimes a little honest talking may clear the air. The person may not be aware of the extent of the hurt that has been caused. With this approach they may see the light and you have won the person over.

The confrontation should not be done in anger or with the desire to get even. It should be done out of genuine concern for the person. And, before it is done, we should examine our own conscience to see if maybe we are not partly to blame.

What should we do if the person refuses to see the light? Then we should seek counsel by getting one or two wise persons to help. The rabbis had some wonderful words of wisdom in this regard, “Judge not alone, for none may judge alone but God.”

The ministry of reconciliation has been entrusted to us. Reconciliation is part and parcel of the disciple’s life. When finding it difficult to forgive one who has hurt you, simply spend some time gazing upon the Crucified One and hearing this words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We must always keep in mind that our God is a God of second chances. This is a wonderful way to bring about reconciliation and healing.

— Fr. Dennis, September 6, 2020