Promoting Reconciliation Through Dialogue and Mutual Love
Readings: 1st: Ez 33, 7-9; Ps 94, 1-2.6-9; 2nd: Rom 13, 8-10; Gos: Mt 18, 15-20
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, the twenty third Sunday of ordinary time, the holy mother church reminds us of our responsibility to towards one another and our society. Most importantly, she reminds us that dialogue and mutual love is the best method of to promote reconciliation.
In the first reading, God reminds us through Prophet Ezekiel, that we have a responsibility towards one another. This is especially, with regards to counselling and warning others of the consequences of their actions in other to save them. It takes love to warn, counsel or advice someone. So, we are to do this with love.
To say that we have a responsibility towards others, is also to say that it has its own consequence for us too. Therefore, the Lord says: “I will hold you responsible.” It is our duty to speak out, counsel, and even warn our brothers and sisters, children, friends and relatives when they are missing their path. Being indifferent to the decay (especially, moral, cultural and spiritual) in our family, society, or community could be to our own detriment in future. So, the onus lies on us to be our brother’s keeper. This is what God is saying.
Unfortunately, today while things go wrong, some of us prefer to keep quiet, join the majority, or pretend that nothing is wrong. We must make ourselves heard. This is because, the indifference or silence we display today might haunt us tomorrow. However, we must be mindful that God says: “I do not delight in the death of a sinner…let him repent and live” (Ezek 18, 23). So, whatever action we are to take, must be in order to correct, to rebuild, and to bring back the one who is on the wrong path.
In the second reading, Paul hits the nail right on head: “Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love.” We must take note of the adjective, “mutual” with which Paul qualified love. The quality of this love is not just a mere selfish feeling or desire to satisfy oneself. Rather, it is that which thinks and cares about the good and welfare of the other.
It can ultimately be known through the actions it prompts in us. This simply means, that it must be a relational love that cares, love that is ready to give, and love that reasons. It is mutual love because, it takes and shares responsibility. It counsels, and accepts good counsels. It corrects, and accepts corrections. It is generous and helps the other see clearly. It is love at its best in 1 Cor 13. It is simply, responsive and responsible.
In the gospel, Jesus gives us the principles of reconciliation. This means that conflicts are inevitable, they must come. They are inevitable in relationships, in families, and in communities. However, the question is how do we resolve them amicably? Suffice to note that at the center of Jesus’ principle is, dialogue. Ability to counsel and talk over issues, to see things from the perspective of others or, the ability to empathize with others.
Hence, Christ gives us a three-dimensional principle of reconciliation. First, we must sit down and dialogue one on one, and face to face. Then, seek the mediation of a good friend, and finally, seek the mediation of our community or family. As Christians, how do we resolve our problems today? Take a pound of flesh from the other, or go straight to the court of law? We must take note of the three basic steps that Christ gives us today.
Unfortunately, today, we neglect all these basic steps and go straight to: “treat him like a tax collector.” Before this, if at all it, is necessary, we must make all efforts to reconcile with others through dialogue. Dialogue fosters mutual respect for the other, it saves us a lot of energy and time and the cost of law suits. Finally, it fosters mutual love and restores relationships. when we dialogue and to agree, God seals it with a great amen.
Peace be with you all!