Saturday, September 30, 2017

09-10-17 -- 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Sept. 10, 2017 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We could come up with many examples of people behaving badly. Differences and disagreements seem, more and more, to be handled in a very public way.

Fights get posted on Facebook. Disagreements get hashed out on Jerry Springer. A gun gets pulled in a Walmart over school supplies.

Our scripture readings this weekend do not attempt to explain why people behave badly. But they assume that people do. Jesus talks about what to do when people wrong us. He gives us steps to take when dealing with difficult people.

First, if someone wrongs you, go tell that person. Don’t punch the person in the face. Don’t spread rumors about the person. Don’t pull a gun on the person. Don’t try to run the person off the road. Don’t even lose your temper and fly off in a fit of rage. No.

Go calmly and tell that person that they hurt or offended you. You know, when you spread that false rumor about me, you really did hurt my reputation here in town. You know, when you chew ice while we are eating, it really does unnerve me.

You can fill in the blanks yourself. You know when you did this, I felt that.

If the person doesn’t listen, take two or three others along as witnesses. Document.
Today, we often use our cell phones for this step. We get the bad behavior on camera.

When things go badly, we aren’t bringing others along as bullies. We bring them along so that the facts can be established.

If things don’t get better, we can always go to the next step. Jesus says, go tell the church. Today the priests of the church don’t function in this role anymore. But our law enforcement officials do.

We can go tell the police or go to the courts for remedy. We shouldn’t try to take matters into your own hands. That never goes well and can be dangerous and even life threatening.

We can seek legal remedy when we believe someone has wronged us that seriously.

Jesus desires for us to live in peace with our neighbor. The goal is to love our neighbor. Saint Paul says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor.” This is the golden rule, to loose, not to bind, to let go of the wrongs others have done to us.

Many people behave badly. But we cannot allow them to ruin our lives. We cannot allow them to be in the majority. We cannot allow ourselves to become like them.

Jesus challenges us to treat our neighbors with dignity and respect. Jesus does not want us to end up on Jerry Springer. Jesus gives us another way.

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