The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt, c. 1667 or 1668
We have a love for Sacred Scripture. It has so much to say about human interactions and is particularly helpful for issues we face every day in marriage and family life. That is why it is so important to immerse yourself in daily Scripture reading. The Father does know best when it comes to issues pertaining to maintaining and developing our relationships with others.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:15-20
“If your brother sins against you…” Typically, we react to an offense against us by gossiping about the person behind their back or venting our anger or frustration to other family members or friends. Jesus, however, says that we are to go to the person that has offended us. The only way to resolve the issue is to discuss the offense in private with the one that has hurt you. Jesus is putting a premium on maintaining the relationship, not on belittling the offender or getting others to agree that we have a right to be upset. No, we are to go to the person and say, “I love you too much to let this hurt undermine our relationship. Can we talk?”
If the person does not listen, then we are to get some help, enlisting a second set of ears if you will. A person who is not emotionally involved in the incident can possibly offer some valuable insight into the conflict. The goal is not to gang up or browbeat the offender into submission but to bring mutual understanding to the situation. Often times, the other person does not even realize they have said or done something to hurt you. The goal here is to reconcile the relationship, not to prove who is right or wrong.
Note that Jesus places the burden in this whole process in on the one who was hurt. Usually in situations like this we say, “I’m not going to him (or her)! He needs to come to me because I am the one that was hurt!” When this approach is used, family and friends can go months or years without talking to each other. No, Jesus tells us to value the other person and win back the relationship, restoring peace.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20