What about this Sunday’s Gospel hit me? For reference, read below.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint 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.”
That part that is bolded: If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. That’s what caught my attention.
Yes, talk directly to the person first, and only if that fails do you take witnesses, and only if that fails do you include the church… But as I read this part, I thought to myself: What did Jesus do with tax collectors? For one (Matthew, the author of this gospel), Jesus made him an apostle. For another, Zaccheus, the invitation was to share dinner. Jesus was often criticized for hanging out with tax collectors, and even gentiles at times.
This is hard. I don’t really want to reach out to some folks I consider mean, stupid (I know that term is not PC these days, but, it’s the best word I can come up with other than “of extremely limited intelligence”), even super rigid. It’s difficult to try to reconcile with them.
Granted, I’m not sure Jesus ever condoned a tax collector’s occupation. He did strongly suggest that unfair collections be repaid fully or even paid back with a bit extra. He also spoke His piece and left it up to the other person to accept it or not.
I think that is a part of the sacrament of reconciliation (Confession). We own our shortcomings, and accept the forgiveness that was always there. We are reconciled.
Joy. Calm. Rest for the soul.