I’ve been waiting for an apology. Maybe you have, too. Jesus’ words today make me wonder why I’m waiting. Isn’t the person who injured me responsible for making amends? Don’t they know they should be asking for my forgiveness? Why is Jesus’ asking me to make the first move?
I don’t think a confrontation demanding an apology is quite what Jesus has in mind – it certainly won’t help the other person listen. Considering the course of action that Jesus’ outlines, I’m eager to have others take my side, but it’s the last bit I find curious: if he still refuses to listen “treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” The Message paraphrase is “you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” There is no one beyond the reach of God’s love. After I have examined my motivations and understand what I seek for myself and hope for the other person, at each turn, whether one to one, with a few others to assist, or with the entire Church, Jesus is not asking for an escalating attack to punish but to increasingly surround the sinner with God’s greater love, to heal and change their hearts and lives, and ours.
From the very first step Jesus promises to be with us. What are we waiting for!
—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.