Today’s Gospel account raises a very practical issue: how to deal with someone who has treated you in a bad way. Obviously these kind of problems took place even in the early Christian Community. Today’s Gospel gives us a way of tackling such a situation. First of all let’s take a look at the usual way most people deal with the issue when being hurt by another.
We begin by keeping it to ourselves. It may be that we are ashamed or simply unable to talk with anyone about it. So we pretend that everything is just fine as we brood over the hurt. This tends to magnify it and we may become sullen, sour and depressed, and may even cut the offender off as a means of seeking revenge.
Eventually, unable to keep it to ourselves, we begin to tell others about it; friends, neighbors, co-workers. We bring them in, not as advisers, but as people who will sympathize with us and our situation. So often the last person to hear about the hurt is the person who caused it.
Our Gospel account today shows us another approach. We should confront the person who hurt us. Failure to do so shows a lack of love and concern for the person. Confrontation takes courage and involves risk. But sometimes a little honest talking resolves the issue. The person may not be aware of the extent of the hurt he or she caused. Such honest conversation will help shed light on the situation, and you have won the person over.
We must keep in mind that such confrontation should not be done in anger, nor out of a desire to get even. It must be done out of genuine concern for the person and not simply to appease one’s own wounded pride. Also, before we do it, we should examine our own conscience to see if maybe we are not partly to blame.
Part of our mission as Christ’s disciples is to be ministers of reconciliation. Jesus reminded us of this when he said, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother or sister has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” To seek reconciliation, according to Jesus, is more important even than offering sacrifice to God.
It is always good for us to remember that we find meaning in life, fulfillment in life, and happiness in life when we “listen to him” and when, as Mary said at the wedding feast at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.”
— Father Dennis, September 10, 2017