A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
15 “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.
16 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.
17 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.
18 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.
19 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.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Good News: Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Everyone commits mistake. Everyone falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). But our God is merciful. He forgives our sins if we come to Him with a sincere desire to repent and to amend our life. However, there are members of the Body of Christ who are blinded with pride and are unable to see and accept their wrongdoings. How do we deal with them?
The gospel passage above is very clear on how to discipline a fellow believer. First, lovingly talk to him or her in private. Never shame him or her in public. If he does not listen, let two or three witnesses talk to him and still, if he refuses to listen, let the whole church make the decision. The rest is up to God.
Listening is the key to healing and reconciliation. It works both ways. God listens to our prayers but we need also to listen to Him. The flock listens to the shepherd and vice versa. In the area of discipline, we need to listen to each other first. Each one has a different background and each of us has a story to tell. In the first verse of our reading, we can easily win over our brother who sins against us if he knows how to listen but we also need to listen to him. Who knows, maybe our brother sinned against us because of our own wrongdoings.
The best part in our reading is that when we come together to solve a problem on discipline or any problem for that matter, God is present in our midst. That is why it is important to start any activity with a prayer in order to seek His wisdom and might. Without Him, we can do little or nothing. With God, there is no problem that cannot be solved. With His mercy and grace, no heart can be so hard.