Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 18
September 6, 2020
First Reading: Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149: 1-9
Second Reading: Romans 13:1-4
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts: for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
In the Gospel of Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus is teaching about the life and relationships within the church, a shepherd, a common image for a community leader, must seek out even the lowliest person.
“If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, ninety-nine that never went astray. So, it is not the will of your’ Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:12-14)
In the Gospel for today, he goes on to tell them. “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If a member listens to you, you have regained that one. If the situation is not solved with one person, get two or three witnesses.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, 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.”
Jesus is teaching them how to solve a conflict with a voice of reason. Instead of letting a situation get out of control.
We have a responsibility as shepherds to save even that one who is lost to us.
When I was in the working in a medical office and in charge of the back-office technicians, there was always conflicts between two technicians. I would call each one into my office. I would ask what was going on? Getting both sides of the story. Then I would have them both in my office to help resolve the situation, before it became worse. If I had not, they would go to their friends and each voicing their opinions, getting allies on their side. It was always better to help them work out their differences. I did not teach love and compassion, but I brought it to the table in my own actions, by how I treated others.
In the second reading today Romans 13:8-14. Paul says to the Romans. “Owe no one anything except love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. He sums it up in the some of The Commandments, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Unity in Christ gospel is what we are taught then and now, we are all one in Christ, we all share in Christs teaching. (1 Corinthians 10:17) “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
Directly and clearly Jesus lays out the best practices for solving conflict and dealing with its aftermath. And not surprising, the secret is LOVE.
There are times when all of us are faced with a conflict and something that cannot be overlooked, I pray we have the faith, the courage and the common sense to act with a humble heart, and a spirit of our loving Christ.
We are reminded in the gospel that a Christian life is not a solo-act and it is certainly not without certain challenges for all of us. But we have Christ’s perfect example, we have his instruction and his encouragement and more than that, we have his assurance that he is with us in every situation and his love will see us through it.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be lose in heaven.
“For where two or three come together in my name, I am with you.”
Let us pray:
We know Father, that you are with us when we are alone and we do not have to be with anyone for you to be present.
We need the reminders that we can put on the armor of light and follow you in love and respect for each other. Give us the Wisdom to listen to the Holy Spirit and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Prayed for the unity of his followers before his crucifixion. We know that we can overcome all divisions, especially when it is combined in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Lola Culbreath