August 14, 2019 – Wednesday 19th Week in Ordinary Time
From the Gospel of Matthew (18:15-20)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
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.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
When someone hurts you, what usually is your automatic response? Do you express angry words and curse the person? Plant hate and grudge over that person? Or retaliate and take your revenge? Or retreat and distance yourself from the person?
I remember when I was younger, the environment that I was growing up facilitated and promoted an attitude that takes revenge when we are hurt by others. Thus, when a child hurts himself/herself even by accident, the adults around the child would encourage the child to hit back and take revenge.
I have observed this when my niece was growing up too. Once, when she was running all around the house, she banged herself with a chair. Because of the pain she felt, she made a loud cry. All of us around her rushed towards her. Habitually, we also told her to hit back the chair so that she can take her revenge. We told her that if she hits back then the pain will be gone. And so, she obediently did so and after that stop crying as if there was no more pain.
However, this seemingly simple attitude taught towards a child was a terrible way of teaching Christian values particularly in confronting pain and sin. What we taught would facilitate later a feeling to the person that it is in taking revenge or causing another pain to others that peace and reconciliation will be achieved. Of course not! What will happen will be the beginning of the cycle of more pain and violence towards the self and towards others.
This is the reason why Jesus calls us today to treat differently a situation like this. In today’s gospel, Jesus is very clear that when somebody hurts us or sins against us, we are called to confront the person in a friendly manner. This is done with the intention of making the person realize the wrong that was done. A great amount of patience and compassion is needed for us because it is not easy to confront a person who have hurt us.
What is beautiful in this manner is the attitude being shown towards those who have hurt us. It has no malice or violent intention. Rather, this attitude affirms the presence of God that dwells in us and among us. Consequently, Jesus assures us today that where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be in their midst.
This is an invitation also to recognize that the Emmanuel, the Lord who us with us, is truly present. When we also recognize the Lord in the presence of others, then, this calls us to show our respect and compassion to the person because it helps to accept that this person is my brother and is my sister.
So, we may ask ourselves again. How do I react when somebody sins against me? Do I react the way I reacted when I was child? Do I react to take revenge or retreat into indifference? Do I linger on the pain and hatred? Or do I respond maturely following what Jesus calls us to do?
Hopefully, our devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, may remind us that our gathering today as a community is a manifestation that God is truly present in us. And may it bring us inspiration and movement in making ourselves more open to the invitations of Jesus for us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR