‘Where two or three are gathered in my name,’ says the Lord, ‘I am there among them.’ Matthew 18:20
Go before us, O Lord,
and further us with your continual help,
that in all our works,
begun, continued, and ended in you,
we may glorify your holy name,
and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Exodus 12:1-14
- Psalm 149
- Romans 13:1-10
- Matthew 18:10-20
- Exodus 14:19-31
- Psalm 114
- Romans 14:1-14
- Matthew 18:21-35
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 14 Matthew 18:10-20
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone … If he does not listen, take two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church …“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is a collection of Jesus’ sayings on the practical challenges facing the Christian community, including status-seeking, scandal, division, and the topic of today’s reading conflict.
Today’s Gospel reading sounds more like regulations devised by an ecclesiastical committee than a discourse by Jesus (this chapter has been called the “church-order discourse” of Jesus). But the real point of Jesus’ exhortation is that we must never tolerate any breech of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community. At each stage of the process – personal discussion, discussion before witnesses, discussion before the whole community – the goal is to win the erring Christian back to the community (the three-step process of reconciliation outlined by Jesus here corresponds to the procedure of the Qumran community).
Jesus’ exhortation closes with a promise of God’s presence in the midst of every community, regardless of size, bound together by faith.
Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel not to tolerate the dysfunction in our lives or allow our judgements and disappointments to isolate us from others, but to confront those problems, misunderstandings and issues that divide us, grieve us, embitter us.
Today’s Gospel outlines a process of reconciliation among divided members of a community. Jesus calls his hearers to seek honesty and sincerity in all relationships, to put aside self-interest, anger and wounded pride, and take the first step in healing the rifts that destroy the sense of love that binds family and friends, church and community – the love of Christ is the “debt” that binds us to one another.
In the “rules” and “procedures” for bringing sinners back to the community he lays out in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to build communities that are inclusive, not exclusive: to bring the lost back, not out of pride or zealousness, but out of “the debt that binds us to love one another.”
Today’s exhortation by Jesus is designed to help us create and maintain households of love and forgiveness and communities of reconciliation and peace, where even the smallest and youngest and least able to contribute are as welcomed and honoured as we would welcome and honour Christ himself. Christ promises that whenever we gather in his name, he is in our midst. Sometimes it requires an extra sharp and focused vision of faith to realise and recognize Christ with us, but he is always there. Christ’s presence should move us, inspire us, transform us into a community of disciples and witnesses of his resurrection. © Connections/MediaWorks
You can read the Pew Sheet herePentecost-14-A