Rev. Daniel Eggold
Aug 31, 2020
Ezekiel 33:7–9; Psalm 32:1–7; Romans 13:1–10; Matthew 18:[1–14] 15-20
In Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus turns his attention to the disciples. Matthew is the only gospel in which Jesus explicitly speaks about the church and addresses some concerns of communal living. This week, Matthew provides a framework for responding to sin and restoration within a community.
It is inevitable that in a relationship, a time comes when someone lets you down. Someone may disappoint you, fail to meet your expectations, hurt your feelings, disagree with you, misspeak, or break your trust. This happens in all relationships, and in all places—the church is no exception. Although these actions can be unintentional, relationships can be scarred by deliberate acts of betrayal, abuse, deception, and malice. In all cases, Jesus’ way acknowledges the reality of broken people and relationships and recommends a path forward.
It is common to seek revenge or try to get even with those who have hurt us. We expect others to be punished for the wrong they have done. What Jesus proposes here is different. Instead of demanding vengeance, we can engage the other person to heal and repair the relationship and community. We are to try multiple times, involving the community as needed,to make amends. We are not to give up on those who do harm but to offer dialogue and healing.
Jesus does not abandon sinners or the church filled with conflicted believers. He comes among us as we listen to each other and work to restore our relationships. We practice the work of restoration every week by sharing a sign of peace with one another. In each exchange of peace, Jesus comes among us to offer grace and forgiveness.
O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy. Without your help, we mortals will fail; remove far from us everything that is harmful, and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.