When we are in an empty room, it is easy to convince ourselves that we are a loving person. But when that room begins to fill with other people, we may have to humbly admit that we are not as loving as we thought we were! Worst still, when we listen to the teaching of Jesus, it begins to dawn on us that He is not talking about ‘A Hollywood Romance’. The Love which Jesus delivers with such Passion is the Love which supports us to ‘lay down our life’ for friends and our enemies.
In the meantime, Jesus teaches and gives a wonderful example of the need for us to be committed to the work of reconciliation. Relationships in families, in the workplace, in schools, in neighbourhoods, in parishes and in our nation are fragile. They can and they do break easily. The moral imperative to keep working for Peace comes with a menu. Follow the suggested steps and it just might be possible to put Humpty Dumpty together again.
Step One: seek a meeting with the person who has wounded you. If the relationship is restored, no need to go the step two. If not, Step Two: invite witnesses, who have a history of being able to mend broken things, to help sort out the truth of what really happened. If this doesn’t work go to Step 3: bring in more people to support the search for truth and reconciliation. If this does not work, move to Step Four: where the offender is seen as someone who needs missionary work in order to become a full member of the community once more.
The Teacher reminds the disciples that they are the mediators between earth and heaven. They are not to model their behaviour on those who exclude and alienate others. What we let go of and what we bind to ourselves is dictated by our allegiance to heaven. It is our spiritual identity which informs our actions. Heavens’ agenda insists that the new humanity not only has the freedom and the strength to find new ways to make peace, but the power to make heaven come to earth. This happens when those who gather, in twos’, or threes’, tens or hundreds, gather
around more than what has hurt them. When we gather in the name of Jesus, He is with and for all who are gathered. He is in the heart of all, breaking down the walls that separate and restoring the flow of the Love which loves all that exists.
We all need to learn how to work through conflict. We all need the courage to do it. When we are struggling to find our lion heart, the temptation is to hand the problem over to the ‘higher ups’. When we are in the wrong, we need to have the ability to listen to what other people are telling us about ourselves. To listen without becoming overly defensive or overly protective of our need to be right all the time. Honest self-examination is worth much more than we know. Listening attentively protects us from rigid self-defence and from flippant apologies that
For Saint Matthew, reconciliation is a spiritual activity. Left to ourselves, hurt spirals beyond our control. But when we ask Jesus, in the power of the Spirit for help, we are creating a new art form. Human skill is woven by the spirit into a new tapestry.