Ordinary Time, 23rd Sunday. Love builds community. Sin destroys it. We are called to be people of love. So what do we do when someone sins against us? Jesus gives us a three-step process.
- Talk to him (or her). Not to everyone else. It’s not about getting even, but about helping my brother repent.
- Bring a couple others into the conversation. How do I know that he needs to apologize? Maybe its me. A couple good friends will help.
- Talk to the church. Sin is like toxic waste; it begins to contaminate everyone. Loving people also means being intolerant of sin, because sin destroys community.
Finally, if he won’t listen even to the church, we treat him like a tax collector or a Gentile. Here there are two things we have to understand. First, we are not excluding someone from community. By choosing sin, and refusing to repent, they have excluded themselves from community. We are only making public what has already happened. Second, how did Jesus treat tax collectors and Gentiles? He loved them and invited them in. In other words, we can never “write someone off” no matter what they have done. We have to always be willing to welcome them back, provided they take the necessary steps.
But there is one more thing to keep in mind — before I can truly help my brother with his sins, I have to be honest with myself about mine. (4 Sep 2011)