23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time September 4, 2011 Year A

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Dear Friends:

When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m not talking to that person any more”? This may be a natural response to being hurt, but it is not usually a fruitful one. Today’s readings offer the most helpful guidelines to be found anywhere for handling conflict and restoring unity.

In the gospel, Jesus gives simple, respectful directives for talking with the person who is offending. “if your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone….”Paul, in Romans, reminds us of the commandments by which we live, and the spirit in which we are to speak: “Love does no harm to a neighbour.” The psalmist urges us not to harden our hearts, but to remain open, grateful, and in the reading from Ezekiel, God warns the prophet to speak up and plead with those who are offending us. When we see a problem, we may be tempted to remain silent. Speaking up takes courage, but by saying nothing we actually support the problem by allowing disunity to grow. Eventually, our silence will also cause suffering.

In the L’Arche community, where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. Inevitably there is hurt and disunity at times. Those who have lived long in communities know that these guidelines, which give space for forgiveness and celebration to are our best resources for preserving a healthy life together.