Two or Three is More than One

In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus instructs his disciples in how to deal with someone who has wronged them. First, the wronged individual should speak to the wrongdoer and try to help him see his transgression. If that doesn’t work, one must take a couple of others to help the person see his fault. If that fails, bring the church community to help speak to him. Jesus ends his instruction with words we are all familiar with: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

I resonated with the temptation Kayla McClurg speaks of in her commentary on this passage:

Sometimes, in a blissfully quiet moment, or when we are tired and disappointed in ourselves and others, we hear a sneaky little voice telling us we might be better off attempting this journey alone. We can discern our own callings, read thought-provoking books, join an online community, work on loving humanity while avoiding actual people.

As tempting as that can be, as McClurg reminds, “for better and for worse, we are not alone. We have companions.”

Speaking of Jesus’ instruction, she writes:

Jesus says, I know your community, how obstinate and annoying they can be, how they sometimes speak ill of you and blame you for their own problems. I called all of you together, remember? What I’d like for you to learn is not to puff up like a self-righteous toad, or point out how highly regarded and generally well-liked you are. No, this is the time to practice what I have told you will be your primary work—forgive, and live in peace. First, go right to the source of your pain and say what is bothering you. Who knows, maybe you old scoundrels will hear each other this time. You’ll both have a laugh and be done with it. If you get no response, go again and take one or two others along. If the person who is on the outs with you still won’t listen, go to the entire church membership. Not to prove how right you are, but because this is the group that is committed to forgiving one another as I have forgiven you. Together you share responsibility for finding ways to live together in the bonds of unity and peace.

Did you forget that this is the final goal? Not to make everyone feel better, not to decide who is right and wrong, but to bring back together whatever has come apart—to mend whatever breaks.

An important reminder. We are a community, members of the Body of Christ. And we correct another, not to prove we are right, but because of our commitment to living together in unity and peace; our goal is bring back together what has come apart.

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2 thoughts on “Two or Three is More than One

  1. When seeking an apology comes before offering forgiveness, can not the ‘Body of Christ’ exasperated the problem with such action?

    Are we to believe Jesus implied that when our ‘feelings’ are not satiated, we are to “go again and take one or two others along”, to support our request for an apology or understanding of our point of view – and if the desired result is still not to our small group’s liking and we “get no response,” and “if the person . . . still won’t listen”, we are to “go to the entire (church) membership.”?

    How should we be called to “correct another,”? How potentially hurtful when counsel is replaced by judgment ours. . . Yes, we are called to “live together in the bonds of unity and peace.” Bonds willing accepted, not chains shamefully bonding. . .

    What more than our heartfelt contrition for possibly contributing to the transgression or misunderstanding is required? We know not what another is experiencing or suffering (actual, imaginary or misguided) and we have little, if any, right to pressure them into sharing.

    In the Catholic tradition, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered – not forced upon anyone. Our Father who brought us into the world will be the first to welcome us into the next – though not ‘before’ Reconciliation.

    If we are to “forgive, and live in peace,” we would be better served to express, “I apologize for anything I may have done and if there is anything that I can do?”

    What more can be offered but an open heart and ourselves . . . while waiting for a “response”?

  2. I apologize for my expressions (rants) over a posting that seemed uncompleted. A first time visit to Kayla’s blog was calming . . .

    Kayla actually ended her post this morning after “to mend whatever breaks.” with . . .

    “If nothing you try works, Jesus says, then all that’s left is to treat the offender as I have told you to treat a Gentile or a tax collector. In other words, make the circle bigger and bring ’em in. I have given you the power already to be at peace with all creation, even with your family and friends, even with yourself. Without practice, the power will atrophy. Practice peace to be at peace. Practice forgiveness to be forgiving. This is the primary gift you bring to the world.”

    “Without practice, the power will atrophy. Practice peace to be at peace. Practice forgiveness to be forgiving.”

    My heart is more peaceful now. . .

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