The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) defines reconciliation as an ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.

Today’s Gospel reading talks about the duty to correct an erring brother or sister. Jesus says, “if your brother or sister does something wrong, go and have it out with him or her in private.” It is clear that if someone is doing wrong, we all have a duty to point it out to him or her. Although this duty falls heavily on the leaders in the community, this challenge is primarily the duty of every Christian.

There is a familiar saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” This simply means that we have a responsibility for our friends, if we are really their friends. We as Christians have a responsibility to others. We have a duty to correct one another. At the same time, we must not commit a sin or wrong another while doing so. We must not humiliate the person we are reproving. We must not do it in anger or else we may cause the person to harden his or her heart. We are invited to do it out of concern for the other person. This way we show our love for him or her.

The first and most important point to mention in this process of reconciliation is that we should keep the wrong of another quiet, just between them until we have sincerely tried to reconcile. This is hard to do. More often than not, when someone hurts us, the first temptation we have is to immediately tell others about it. This may be done out of too much hurt, anger, a desire for revenge or to spoil his or her name, etc. We learn from Jesus that we must not tell others, but only the one who has wronged us, and try to reconcile and make peace with that person. The second important step offered by Jesus is to involve others including the church. The primary reason is to help that person repent and to help that person see the gravity of his or her own error.

Nelson Mandela, who spend 27 unjust years in prison, shares some of his experiences in his autobiography called a “Long Walk to Freedom.” He talks about how one day he was called to the main office. General Steyn wanted to know from Mandela if the prisoners had any complaints. Mandela had been chosen by his fellow prisoners as their spokesman. Mr. Badenhorst was the officer in command of the prison and was hated by every prisoner. Mandela, in a calm and very gentle way, informed the General about the chief complaint of the prisoners, without bitterness or anger. The following day, Badenhorst was transferred, went to Mandela, and said, “I am leaving the prison. I just want to wish you people good luck.” His gentle words remained in the mind of Mandela for a long time, and Mandela concludes, “It goes to show that even the most seemingly cold-blooded have a core of decency, and that if their hearts are touched, they are capable of changing.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are responsible for one another. We cannot remain silent when silence can be taken to mean that we approve of what is happening. In this case, we bear part of the responsibility for the evil. When God asked Cain where his brother Abel was, Cain replied, “Am I my brothers’ keeper?” It is an excuse that has been widely used to this day. Reconciliation is very hard but for this reason this should not be left untried. It is always possible with God’s help.

Any vocation is a call to follow Jesus more closely, and to be an ambassador of reconciliation, as St. Paul puts it. Here is another definition of reconciliation that can guide us: Reconciliation happens when the injured person feels heard, an apology is offered, a declaration to change is made, an offer to make amends is stated, and the offended person is able to forgive from the heart.

By Susai Jesu, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Team
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