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CALL : +685 24414
FAX 20429
5th Floor John Williams Building
Tamaligi, Apia

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Tuesday 31 March
A counter-cultural paradigm: a community of forgiveness 

 

Read Matthew 18:15–20
‘Truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are
gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (verses 19–20)

In six short verses, Jesus offers guidelines for living in community that resonate in our times. We are ruggedly individualistic, aggressively self-absorbed, fiercely competitive, keeping scores and planning to settle them vengefully, and in all things looking out for number one. Against these cultural predispositions, Jesus counsels encountering, listening to and engaging with others. First, he calls the church to motivate those in contention to foster genuine and honest encounter, with the accuser and defendant investigating the matter privately in the hope of restoring unity.

The word ‘church’ appears only in Matthew’s Gospel: thrice here in chapter 18 and in the passage in which Jesus calls Peter the rock on which he builds his church (16:18). Then, Jesus the Incarnate Word, listening to a speaking world, invites his followers to be listeners first and last: attentive, self-abasing, eager listeners. Four times in just 150 words Jesus refers to listening, making it an imperative, a vocation and a ministry for those who choose to follow him. Ours is a culture of demanding to be heard, ready to react even before we have heard what has been said by others. Jesus advocates turning our predisposition upside-down and choosing the countercultural way.

It is here that Jesus gives the assurance of his ‘real presence’ with his followers who gather in his name. Not in the context of the accounts of the Eucharist do we find this promise and guarantee, but in the context of conflict and disagreement when it is transformed by attentive listening and embracing the other in community – there, where love prevails Christ is ever found.

† Fount of mercy and forgiveness: make us gentle, and when discord arises make us eager to be forgiving because it is in our loving that we find you really present with us.  Amen