A Brother who Sins
At Grace Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. worshippers annually celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one with what they call a “burning service.” Each member of the congregation brings to the altar a paper on which he/she has written failures and mistakes, hatreds and ill will. In addition, they also wrote changes to be made during the New Year. The paper is dropped into a flaming urn. One year, two men who had once been friends, but had quarreled over a business deal stood side by side at the altar. After dropping their papers into the urn, they got up, faced each other and shook hands.
Christian community is primarily a quality of the heart. It is not a primarily a matter of particular structures. It is first of all an awareness of Christ’s call to inter-dependence, to loving and being loved, to forgiving and being forgiven, to serving and being served, to giving and receiving. In this sense I can do what Jesus asks of us in today’s gospel: “If your brother sins against you go and tell his fault, between you and him alone,” (v.15) so on and so forth.
Today’s gospel too presents to us the reconciliation process Jesus suggests that involves four steps:
First is to talk it over with the person who sinned against you. In other words, there should be a one on one conversation between you and the person who committed the sin against you. There should be a heart to heart talk. It’s between you and the offender. If he is not, then do the second step.
Second is to talk it over with him in the presence of witnesses. Look for a mediator between you and the offender, a neutral person in a neutral place. If he is not amenable, then go to the third step.
Third is to bring it to the church or ask advices from priests or religious about the matter. If still he is not forgiving, then go to the fourth one.
Fourth is, don’t talk to him/her anymore.
But based on our experience, in the first, step, there is already reconciliation happen between the offender and the offended party. The problem is, Jesus suggests these steps, it seems that the last step is the immediate solution that we often do instead of the first step.
If we do these steps then we can be clarified, our side is known and the side of the other is known to. Experience teaches us that many times when we talk to the person who hurt us, we are liberated, the hurt becomes less painful and we begin to understand the incident in a new light.
St. Clement of Alexandria said: “For the sake of each of us He laid down His life, worth no less than the universe. He demands of us in return our lives for the sake of each other.” Do we have the courage to confront the person without hurting the other person?
OPTION 01, 02, 03,