Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Matthew 18:15-20

Year A - Pentecost +13 or Community Practice 13
September 7, 2014

Thank goodness these instructions are in the context of finding a lost sheep. They put us in the position of a privileged shepherd, right in being affronted by another loser (uh, lost one). The obvious work to be done is to get them to acknowledge the hurt I have received and make it good. I need my boo-boo kissed.

So a logical way of doing this is to start by providing the least embarrassing option of a personal apology. However, the odds are that if I am feeling the need to straighten out their behavior I would like a little more than a private conversation. I have already escalated this to having talked with my friends and gotten their agreement that I am the aggrieved party.

So we are already on our way to a separation. By the time I can muster saying, “You hurt me.” The possibility of a lesser encounter is long past. I am no longer able to start with a clarification of what I took to be an injury or to say, “I felt hurt when....”

So it is that our experience of being discounted (whether we were or not) gets tied up with universals and eternals and I am ready to bind another, forever, if they have any different picture than I do about their fault I am lovingly pointing out to them for their betterment.

We are here well past the beginning humility of this chapter, causing another to stumble. We are all too ready to say, “Yes, I messed up a little with that kid, but you messed up big time with me!”

What do you think was in the mind of the lection committee when they stopped at verse 20 and didn’t go on to Peter and forgiveness in multiples of 70? It would seem we are more intent on another’s confession than our own affirmation or practice of premeditated mercy.

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