It is important and helpful to remember, and also call to mind, that the Gospels were written well after the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. It is also wise to recall the setting of each Gospel. Matthew is writing, according to the scholars, around 80CE. There are many Christian communities and not all are perfect. This we know from other sources; try reading parts of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. We also know that, despite their failings, the emerging Christian communities were known and admired for their love for one another. This dilemma had to be dealt with and this Sunday we have one teaching of Jesus remembered and put down for the next generation, as well as an offering to assist in resolving current difficulties.
What is proposed is a threefold process:
One on one
With one or two further witnesses
Go to the Community (Church).
Not always easy, especially in our litigious society! It ought to be possible in the community of the Church; if practised, then the sign of peace becomes truly ‘peacemaking’ and not simply a call to action.
So, the card at Christmas or the long-proposed telephone call, may be the beginning of the process. Asking a friend to accompany you to a mutually acceptable place and have a cup of coffee can become the next step. And, as often happened in another age and needs to begin again, sitting down with a representative of the local church community, someone known for a listening ear and a few wise words.
Our Church has failed people in certain areas in recent times and there are many who need to hear the words of “welcome home”. We can all seek out the lost and fringe dweller, and offer the hand of friendship and propose reconciliation. The recent Year of Mercy reminded us afresh that reconciliation and forgiveness of fault and sin resides in an understanding of God’s mercy. That realisation tempers those who endeavour to set limits on willingness to forgive both fault and sin…
If you want mercy from God be merciful to others.
If you want justice from others then expect justice from God.
Such practise might save an enormous amount of Court time and effect more satisfactory and meaningful peace.