Read: Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus set for his followers a three-step procedure for reconciling differences among the community. In the first step we are told to go one-on-one to the person and try to work out the problem. If that doesn’t work, we are to take some witnesses, or in the final case, bring the offender before representatives of the Church. If reconciliation does not occur in the end, there is nothing more we can do and are told to walk away from the person.
Reflection for Families
Reconciling differences is one of the most challenging jobs of parenthood. When our children jump immediately to step three (we sometimes call it tattling), we need to remind them and guide them through the first steps. Our children need to see us model this as well. How often do we fly off the handle and accuse someone of wrongdoing rather than approach him/her rationally. When our children see us calmly, but firmly, address someone, naming the infraction and saying how the action made us feel, they learn that there are other ways besides hostile confrontation to work out differences.
Bringing the Gospel Into Your Family
The next time there is an argument or injury in your family, try this formula: In a normal tone of voice, let the person who was injured say to the one who inflicted the hurt, “It hurts me (or makes me feel . . .) when you . . .” If the perpetrator is genuinely willing to ask for forgiveness, they may say something like, “I’m sorry for hurting you by . . . I will try not to . . . in the future. Will you forgive me?” The injured person must decide if he/she can accept the apology and truly forgive the other person. If not, a time should be named when they will try this formula again. If reconciliation does occur, the formula should end with some gesture of peace.
- There was a time when I had to correct someone who did something wrong. This gospel would have helped me…
- There is a situation I know of where this formula will help me. I plan to use it by…
- I know it was hard for someone to correct me once when…