Matthew 18: 15-20.
It is not a new thing that today many people are living in enmity, quarrelling, altercation and family discord.
In the gospel of today, Jesus tells you what to do if anyone sins against you. He teaches us today the essence of forgiveness.
Many hearts today are full of grudges and quest for revenge. It is very hard to find a family living in peace.
The surprising thing is that many of these homes are Christian families. That means many of them are also followers of Jesus Christ.
Today, many of us living together tear ourselves apart over nothing that can be easily settled amicably.
If we are sincerely certain that we are true followers of Jesus Christ then we should always seek for peace.
Today, Jesus sets out guidelines to make sure peace and unity are maintained in every family. Let us take them gradually:
1. To the Disciples.
In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks directly to His disciples. By implication, this involves every follower of Jesus.
The point is that if anyone sins against you and you are a disciple of Jesus, what you owe the person is not revenge.
If we are His disciple, our ways should differ from that of the world. Every follower of Jesus must live in peace with another.
Jesus tells his apostles in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples.
Therefore, if you love one another, this is what separates you from the world. Therefore, if anyone sins against you, you have to let go, because of what you are and what you represent: A disciple of Jesus Christ.
2. Even If They sinned against You.
Jesus says “if your brother or sister has sinned against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are in private. There are two things I will like us to notify here. They are:
i. Go and point out to Him
In this gospel, Jesus is saying that we have to call the person that offends us and talk sense into him. It is better, instead of bearing grudges against your brother or sister, instead of finding a way to revenge, instead of trying to destroy the image of the other person.
In essence, if anyone sins against you, try and call the person to order. Point to the person the mistakes he made. It is better than looking for a way to exterminate the person or wait for the person to come and ask for forgiveness.
2.Another thing we have to see here is that the offender is not the one that Jesus says should meet the offended.
It is not that the offender is not supposed to beg for forgiveness, but in a case the offender refuses to show up, let the offended call the offender in order and make peace.
(ii) When Two of you are in Private.
Jesus emphasises that this initial step must be in private. Two ears must not hear what happened. It is where most of us make mistakes.
When something happens, it is good to make peace. Sometimes instead of making peace between two brothers, we run to involve a third party. Sometimes we begin to destroy the image of the person.
Many of the times, we even lie against him or her. We try to conjure many things so that they will sound good to our listeners.
When our listeners see how sweet such sounds, they will also carry it undiluted, and the major part of the message becomes “I heard that…( Anuru m si….) or “Aaaa si” (someone said). We then forget who began the rumour. The bearers name will now change to “A nurum si” ( I heard).
Many people have destroyed others through this. If we also hear something negative about the other person, try and find out the truth.
Therefore, if anyone sins against you, do not be the person to rush to the public and talk about it. Do not be happy to see the name of your fellow being destroyed.
Many innocent people today are dying in silence. There are many people today who are being accused innocently. Many people are suffering what they do not know about.
Therefore, it is good to listen to your brother or sister and hear his or her part of the story before making a final judgement.
Christianity is a gift to humanity. If we truly abide by God’s Word, there will be peace and things are going to work out well for everyone.
Therefore, Jesus concludes, “if He listens to you, the case ends. But if he refuses to listen, then try the second step.
2. Take with You one or two Brothers.
Jesus uses adelphoi (brother) in this pericope. He begins with “if your brother sins against you”.
The use of “Brother” then means that we are one. In the body of the Lord, there is no division. Therefore, we have to treat everyone as our brother.
What Jesus is trying to say is that we have to settle every case amicably first.
We do it as if we are dealing with someone who has a strong affiliation to us or a blood relationship.
Then Jesus says, “take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge”.
Therefore, the two or three will serve as witnesses and must also be from the people related to you.
Jesus knows that when the issue at stake becomes public then there is a problem.
Secondly, Jesus expects us to make serious efforts to ensure we live in harmony.
Thirdly, if the offended is truly a Christian, he should be the one take the leading role and must not wait for the offender to beg for forgiveness. Therefore, if anyone sins against you, seek forgiveness and peace and not revenge.
3. Tell it to the Church.
Jesus sees this as the last attempt. After trying all the above and yet nothing happens, then the Church is to be involved.
I believe that before the case reaches this extent, they will settle it unless the offender does not want peace. And if after listening to the Church, He refuses to make peace then, Jesus says that we can treat him like a nobody.
It means that whoever refuses to listen to the Church also refuses to listen to God.
When we follow these, there is no how peace will not reign again unless the offender has bluntly refused to change.
Sometimes what brings quarrels are minor issues that we can solve immediately and very easily. Hence we allow them to begin to dig deep. It then brings hatred, quarrelling and sometimes fighting.
Unity in Prayer.
Jesus says that if on earth two people are united in prayer, asking for anything, God will grant it to them.
In essence, Jesus is revealing one of the secrets of effective prayer. The secret is that the prayer of people united in one heart carries a lot of energy.
It is the prayer of people united in one voice and not scattered. It is when a family gather together with one heart, without hatred and envy.
The reason our prayers do not cross the roof of our houses is that many of them are filled with fire and thunder. We pray with hatred, jealousy etc.
Peace should be our watchword. The problem is that today instead of making peace, our interest is to pray that God should revenge and exterminate the other person.
If anyone sins against you, pray for Him and not against Him. Pray for your enemies and those who persecute you. ( Matthew 5:44).
May God have mercy on us and help us to live in harmony with one another. Amen. God bless you.