Fr. Jacob Dankasa – My Blog

Archive for September 2017

The teaching of Christ in our Gospel today (Mt. 18:15-20) seems to go contrary to our perceived everyday model of reconciliation. In our everyday life we instinctively expect the person who offends us to come seeking for reconciliation. On the contrary, Christ lies the responsibility for initiating reconciliation with the person who is offended: “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his faults.” Christ admonishes us to reach out to the offender. This goes with a lot of humility. 

Christ presents four steps towards reconciliation: First is a private consultation. Effective reconciliation begins by privately seeking it. It will be counter productive to tell the whole about a wrong doing committed against you by someone before making the person in question know about it. This may jeopardize the process. In a Christian spirit, let the person be the first to know that you feel offended by his/her actions. When this first step fails Christ gave a second step where you involve one or two responsible people that can help mediate. Be sure that such people are truly responsible because some people can make matters worse between you. The third step, if the second fails, is to involve the church or the community.  

The last step, if all fail, is to treat the person “as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” This last step can be misunderstood. Many may think that this means you have finished trying; you should hate the person or treat the person with disdain. Definitely, that’s not the kind of advice we will expect from a person like Jesus who symbolizes persistent love. When Christ advised his listeners to treat the person as they would a Gentile or a Tax collector, he is asking them to follow his (Jesus) footsteps. How did Jesus treat the Gentiles and the tax collectors? You remember what he did to the Samaritan woman at the well who was considered to be a Gentile? Remember what he did to Zacchaeus and Levi who were considered to be tax collectors? He didn’t condone their behaviors neither did he hate them or despise them. He never got done with them, he never finished trying. 

This last step is about the most challenging. Christ is asking us to still forgive and love even when our efforts for reconciliation fail. It is not an invitation to hate, but it is a christian call to never give up on trying to win back a brother or sister. If we can do nothing else, we can at least continue to pray for the person and still leave room that someday reconciliation may be achieved. This was reiterated by St. Paul in the second reading (Rom. 13:8-10): “owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another…. Love does no evil to the neighbor.” When you seek reconciliation and the other refuses, you’re exonerated in the side of God. The burden of sin is taken away from you. But continue to lift the person up to God. This is so weird and difficult. But a christian is known by his weird and difficult actions that eventually lead to God. 

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