TWENTY THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
10th September 2023
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20.
This Sunday Jesus addresses the resolution of interpersonal conflict. This involves conflict between siblings, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. According to him, ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother…’ Jesus listed two important conditions that will resolve any conflict. First, the conflict should be addressed privately between the parties involved, there should be no external involvement. Secondly, the meeting should aim at getting a listening ear. If these two conditions are met, the conflict will be resolved.
This approach to interpersonal conflict is effective because it is founded on love. St. Paul stated in the second reading: Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments. The interpersonal conflict between two individuals goes round in vicious circles. It takes courage to break this circle of violence. Approaching the other with whom we are in conflict privately is an act of love and a bold step in resolving the conflict. Getting the other to listen breaks the circle of violence. This is because the aim is not to blame but to discuss. And Jesus said: If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. Interpersonal conflict linger because no one is ready to make a bold step towards its resolution. Today its clear that love is the one thing that cannot hurt anyone.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.