Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday September 26, 2014 The Friars Should Not Receive Money?

The Friars Should Not Receive Money?

by friarcasey
For Francis, searching for money, even for the poor, was still time spent on futile things.
For Francis, searching for money, even for the poor, was still time spent on futile things.
Every Friday morning after the office the leader of prayer reads a chapter of the Rule of St. Francis (1223) and we take fifteen minutes to meditate on its meaning in our life today. It is a great practice constantly reminding us of who we are and who we are to be as friars.
Today we read chapter four, "That the Brothers Should Not Receive Money". In what is the most overlooked and disregarded chapter in the Rule, friars are forbidden to receive coins or money, either directly or indirectly, for any purpose other than the infirm brothers and clothing for cold places. According to Francis, the friars were not even to receive money to give to the poor. Instead, friars were to work for a living, taking in wages only what they needed to survive for that day, e.g. food, clothing, housing.
Naturally, this is something that has troubled me since the first time I read this on retreat in postulancy. What the heck do we do with this command? Clearly we're not even trying to live this, we're just blatantly ignoring it. If that's the case, what else are we neglecting? It turns out, we're also not allowed to enter the monasteries of women, appropriate houses for ourselves, and my favorite, ride horses. If all of these things are in the Rule, and we are clearly not adhering to them, how can we even say we follow the Rule at all? Is this, as some would say, "cafeteria Franciscanism?"
Without spiritualizing away the true difficulties of humility and material poverty that Francis experienced, I think true faithfulness to the Rule does not mean strict literalism. Just because the Rule says something explicitly doesn't mean that that is exactly what we are to do. How is this not picking and choosing issues? The fact of the matter is that this document was written in a context not our own: society and Church of 1223 is nearly unrecognizable to society and church of 2014. Because of that, what was meant in 1223 is undoubtedly going to take on different meaning in a different time, place, and culture, making a literal adherence to that culturally condition expression a potentially inappropriate expression for today.
Faithfulness to the rule, thus, must not be a strict observance of the literal words but a faithfulness to the intended purpose of such actions. What was it that Francis and his brothers wanted to capture? What was it that they wanted to protect against? What is the underlying spirit that guided them to live as they did. In answering these questions, we find that the above passages are still critically important, but must take on a different expression today.
In the case of not receiving money, it must be remembered the economic context in which Francis lived and the role money had it in. Unlike today, money was not standardized and readily available. There were two types of coinage: one that the rich used, which held its value and was worth much more, and one that the poor used, which fluctuated in value and was often used as a means to cheat them out of due wages. It was an unjust system that disproportionately hurt the poor. Add that to a call to "leave everything" and follow Christ, relying solely on God's providence with one's eyes focused on the kingdom of heaven rather than the kingdom of fading money and power, and it's clear why Francis forbade his brothers to take any part in this system.
With that in mind, we look to our own world. The concept of money is not a controversial topic any more. Not only is it standardized and readily available, it has completely replaced all other forms of economy. Try getting a job today and convincing the boss to pay you in loaves of bread and warm clothes. It won't happen, and really, it can't happen. That world has been replaced. Should we throw away the fourth chapter of the rule, then, since friars must receive money to live in this world? Absolutely not. Just because the specific expression no longer makes sense, the value still remains: we continue to live in a society that separates the rich from the poor, that acts with great injustice for the sake of money and power, and tries to distract us from what is truly important, following our Lord into the kingdom of heaven.
So, what does this look like? Well, it calls us to look at money in a different way than the world does. Although I get a stipend each month for my needs, I am reminded not to see it as my money that I can do with whatever I want and no one has a right to it, but rather something to use for the sake of the kingdom. Treating money as nothing more than a practical necessity, something to be shared and used for ourselves and others rather than something to be hoarded, defended, and worried about, frees us from the futile world of greed and consumerism, able to use things for the sake of people rather than what we usually do, use people for the sake of things. It calls us to often go without money, experiencing what the poor experience in this unjust system, to live as examples of people who's joy is not dependent on material things.
Ultimately, what I'm trying to say in this post is that this process of understanding our Rule is not something reserved for friars but rather an example of the discernment all Christians must have each and every day. When we look at our sources for following Christ, are we called to live out the literal expression of the biblical text, or are we to be faithful to the intention God had through the writers? When we are able to shift from the former to the latter, to hold the text of scripture in one hand and the daily experience of this world in the other, what we'll find is that the experiences are different but the truth remains the same. We can choose to remain in the realm of the literal, choosing the easy interpretation that does not force us to integrate the text in our lives but only gives us the option of accepting or ignoring bewildering precepts, or we can prayerfully engage the experiences of those who have gone before us as a common people, struggling through the ambiguity, to live the way Jesus would have lived had he walked the earth today.
What I say is certainly not easy, and is no easier in a faith community of diverse backgrounds and opinions. But that is our life. We do not live in a black and white world of easy answers. We live in a complex collision of worlds and realities that are all striving for meaning and all capture a bit of it, to varying degrees. It is only when we are prayerfully open to the diverse experiences our brothers and sisters that I think we will ever come close to living the way Jesus intended us to live.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Saint in New Jersey?Venerable Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, SC (1901-1927)

A Saint in New Jersey?
Venerable Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, SC (1901-1927)

"The Church does not MAKE saints; GOD DOES …The Church only RECOGNIZES them." ~ Fr. James FitzPatrick, OMI (Postulator 1996-2002)
  • Who is Sister Miriam Teresa?Teresa Demjanovich, a 20th Century American girl, was born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1901, the youngest of seven children of Alexander and Johanna (Suchy) Demjanovich, Ruthenian immigrants to the United States from what is now Eastern Slovakia. Teresa received Baptism, Confirmation, and her First Holy Communion in the Byzantine-Ruthenian rite of her parents.
  • Where did she live out her brief life?
    After attending Bayonne public schools Teresa entered the College of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station, New Jersey. She was graduated with highest honors in 1923. Two years later, in 1925, she entered the community of Sisters of Charity at Convent Station. After profession of vows as a Sister of Charity, Teresa died in Saint Elizabeth Hospital, Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1927. She was 26 years of age.
  • Why is she being considered for Sainthood by the Catholic Church?Because of her saintly life, her striving for perfection in her religious life, her spiritual writings, the mystical privileges accorded her by God during life and the favors received by others after her death through her intercession with God, the Sisters of Charity petitioned Rome for permission to open her Cause for Beatification and Canonization.
  • What is the present status of her Cause for Beatification/Canonization?
    The first half of the beatification process is the acceptance of the Positio Super Virtutibus (Her heroic virtues and holiness). This has been approved by the theologians and ordinaries (Bishops and Cardinals). Her name was submitted to the prefect of the Congregation of Saints who then gave her name to Pope Benedict XVI.
    On May 10, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI decreed that Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, SC, was of heroic virtue and can now be called Venerable.
    The second part of the beatification process, the Positio Super Miro (a miraculous cure) can only be considered after the acceptance of the Positio Super Virtutibus.
    Our case is that of a young boy who was declared legally blind due to bilalteral macular degeneration. Through the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa, his sight was restored. On December 17, 2013 a panel of Cardinals and Bishops agreed that the cause of the blind child has been accomplished through the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa. On that same day, Pope Francis declared this an authentic miracle. Sister Miriam Teresa will be declared Blessed at a ceremony to be held on October 4, 2014 at Sacred Heart Basilica in Newark, NJ.
  • How can I assist in bringing about her canonization?Become a member of the Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer and share in the Spiritual Benefits of Membership.
    Receive the Bulletins of the League.
    Make a donation to the League.
    Pray that God will guide the Church in this decision and that another miracle will occur.
For more information call 973-290-5467
Prayer for Beatification
Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, Whom Sister Miriam Teresa loved so ardently, grant that we, like her, may become ever more conscious of your Divine Presence within our souls. We implore you to show signs that your humble servant enjoys glory with you in Heaven, and to hasten the day when we may render her a public tribute of our veneration and love.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Sister Miriam Teresa League Headquarters | P.O. Box 476, Convent Station, NJ 07961-0476
E-mail: or call 973-290-5315

Thursday September 24, 2014 Help for the Displaced Iraqis

CNEWA gets Raskob grant for clinics for displaced Iraqis

by Administrator
Aid officials have cited a need for hospitals for displaced Iraqi minorities who fled Islamic State fighters. (CNS/Sahar Mansour)
Aid officials have cited a need for health care for displaced Iraqi minorities who fled Islamic State fighters. (CNS/Sahar Mansour)
NEW YORK -- The Raskob Foundation has awarded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association an emergency grant so it can open two additional medical clinics serving displaced Christians in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.
The agency’s local partners have cited pressing health concerns for the 4,530 Iraqi Christian families living temporarily in the cities of Dohuk and Zahko. They are among Iraqi minorities who have fled advancing Islamic State fighters.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena will administer the clinics and will coordinate their efforts with Chaldean and Syriac Catholic priests responsible for relief efforts in Dohuk and Zahko, respectively.
Administrator | September 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Categories: CNS | URL:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday September 23 St Pio

Today we celebrate the life of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), the Capuchin friar still best known simply as "Padre Pio" who has become one of the most popular saints in the Church. Like the Franciscan we remembered a few days ago, Joseph of Cupertino, the para-normal phenomena connected with Padre Pio, especially the stigmata, created quite a bit of controversy during his life. But he demon...strates again that the heart of Franciscan spirituality lies in a radical response to the in-break of God's love in one's life that leads us to empty ourselves and follow in the footsteps of Christ.

As Pope Paul VI said shortly after Padre Pio's death: "Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? No - because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was–it is not easy to say it–one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering."

We cannot forget that as Pio came to know Christ more and more, he began a outreach to the suffering poor through a hospital in San Giovanni Rotundo, which today has become a major medical treatment and research center -

"Through the study of books, one seeks God; by meditation one finds him" (Pio of Pietralcina).
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday September 18 Thoughts on the Eucharist

We know that the Eucharist is the center of Christian life but all too often the Eucharistic Celebration, where Jesus becomes present for us becomes routine.  What happens at the altar should have feet on it so when we walk out of the Church the presence of this mystery should be seen in our way of life. 


We all get so busy that we even can’t remember the readings of the day for the  Mass.



So it is good to take time as we are doing today and reflect on what the Eucharist means, and is for each of us.


Today we will consider these points. A)  Where Jesus Christ is found.   B) Some Saints that found inspiration from the Blessed Sacrament and C) what can we do to further our own devotion to the Eucharist.


Where Christ is found.

In the Vatican documents, you remember,   it states that Christ can be found in 4 ways, I add a fifth way. 1.) Christ is present in His sacraments especially in the Eucharist, 2.) Christ is present in the Word, 3) Christ is present in the priest, 4)Christ is present in the assembly of people at prayer and 5)Christ is present in the poor.


·      Christ is present in His Sacraments especially the Eucharist; the Eucharist is the source of all power, energy and grace.

Pope Urban the IV asked Thomas Aquinas to write the mass for Corpus Christi; story of Bonaventure

Sequence from the Mass of Corpus Christi– all good Theology of the Eucharist



·      Christ is present in the word; the word of liturgy of the Eucharist and putting those words in practice in our own lives.

·      The Hebrew Bible tells of the manna that came down from Heaven; also the Jewish people devour their Torah readings like it was and it is nourishment for the soul. 

·      Christ is present in His priests.  Francis had a great reverence for priests because they were able to bring down from heaven Jesus on our altars- story of an unworthy priest. We who are baptized also share in this priestly vocation and therefore not specters at the Eucharist, as we would be at a football game. We offer with the priest our lives, on the paten and in the cup.

·      Father Pierre Chardin, a Jesuit, wrote a book called Hymn f the Universe.  While he was on an archeology dig in Asia, he wrote this.  “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, but I will raise myself beyond these symbols. I your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world…grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.  One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity. Over every living thing which is to spring p, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words; this is my body, and over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words, which express the supreme mystery of faith; This is my Blood.”  So we have here Chardin’s idea of the Cosmic Christ offering the cosmic Mass.  We can do the same at our Eucharistic Celebration or our time spent before the Blessed Sacrament. At the preface of the Mass we call down with the priest  “with all the angels and archangels, with all the company of heaven.  This is the communion of saints.  All who are with us at this Eucharist, our loved ones, living or deceased, those suffering.  We are one in/ the one body of Christ.



·      Christ is present in His people gathered in prayer.  We can see The image of Saint Francis holding up St. John’s Lateran Church in Rome (then the papal Church) the Church is yours and mine to embrace; not the attitude “my Church, wrong or right’ but our attitude of knowing that we are the Church, and we, part of the church, are sinners and isn’t it wonderful that we are welcomed in this Church.  Anne Dillard became a Catholic and when reporters asked her why she became a Catholic she said, “ When I look around in Church I say to myself here comes everybody.” We, in a Eucharistic manner and moment welcome everyone or if we don’t we should make every effort to welcome everybody.  It is easy to become cynical about the church especially as we get older.  I remember once a sister asking a priest, “Why does the church do this or that and hurt people.  And his response was,”We all can sit in a corner and lick our wounds, but one has to make up their mind that when we are shelved we will become sweet pickles


and not sour pickles on the shelf.  What has this to do with the Eucharist, you may ask.  Well, the Church is the body of Christ, one body, no fractions no divisions, diversity yes but in all things charity. (Quote is from the Vatican documents.) When we go up to communion and receive the host, and the priest says, body of Christ, we say Amen, that is Yes, to the whole body, to the person seating next to me, to the people in Iraq, the poor in New Orleans.  It is the attitude of the willingness to wash everyone’s feet in welcoming them.  We are always trying, falling short of the mark, falling down and getting up, beginning again. As Francis says,” Up to now, I have done nothing, Let us begin again.”  Francis said this on his deathbed. Someone asked a Trappist monk what he does all day and he said we fall down and get up again, fall down and get up.  He pointed to a large oak and said see that mighty oak, it once was a little nut that hung on.


·      Read – about Quakers:



Christ is present in his poor:


he Poor are the presence of God






   ·      For us:  What can we do to strengthen our love for the Eucharist.


·      We can derive inspiration from Saints.


·      St Clare of Assisi turned to the Eucharist when the Saracens were attacking Assisi.  Clare went to the Blessed Sacrament, her bedrock and brought the Eucharist out to the Saracens as they were climbing over the wall.  The Eucharist saved Assisi though Clare’s Faith in the power of the Sacrament.


·      St Elizabeth Seton, while in Italy witnessed a Corpus Christi procession and while she was an Episcopalian who did not believe in the Real Presence said that if she did believe in The Real Presence she would walk on her knees to the that Church.  When she returned home to New York from Italy   Elizabeth would go to Church at Trinity Episcopalian Church at  the Wall Street area but sit with her face toward the Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter’s. 


·      Bishop Fulton Sheen always spent an hour every morning before the Blessed Sacrament, as did Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, who was told by his own priests ,"you are not too busy, Cardinal, to stop and spend an hour before the Eucharist."


·      One moment in my own life that has deepened my devotion to the Eucharist began when I was 7 years old.  Our Parish was having 40 hours devotion and the first communion class, of which I was a part, was to walk before the priest who was carrying the Eucharist.  Since I was small and one of the leaders of the procession at the back of the Church my partner and I were to stop and the others take the next pew up until the whole group was lined up to the front of the Church.  When the priest came with the Eucharist a man in the back knelt down and touched the clock of the priest.  It scared me at first but as I grew older I realize that he was acting out the Gospel story where it says, “If I but touch the hem of His garment I will be cured.”  That was faith and humility.  Every time I hear that Gospel story my mind goes back to that man who had such faith.


·      Praying before the blessed Sacrament or during Mass we can to consider the forms of prayer that are used for Mass and to carry them to our private adoration


·      I think of the word SPORTS to help us remember the different forms of prayer found in the Mass which we can also use in our private  moments before the blessed Sacrament












·       S IS FOR SONG
Thanks for reading this and may you find your life in the Eucharist grow.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday September 17 Feast of Saint Francis' Stigmata


Today the Franciscan family celebrates the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, recalling the marvelous union of Francis with his crucified Lord through his own personal passion, which left the marks of Christ's own wounds on his body. As a modern biographer, Andre Vauchez, says: "What happened on LaVerna on an undetermined day in September 1224? It is difficult to say with any precision, as Fran...cis did not mention it in his writings, and he forbade from speaking about it those rare persons who came to observe the traces of the wounds." The main witness of these events, Brother Leo, later said simply: "The blessed Francis spent forty days on Mount LaVerna, and the Lord's hand was upon him. But after the vision of the Seraph and the impression of Christ's stigmata on his body, he composed these praises, thanking God for the kindness bestowed upon him":

"You are the holy Lord God, Who does wonderful things!

You are strong. You are great. You are the Most High.
You are the almighty king. You, holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.

You are Three and One, the Lord God of gods.
You are the good, all good, the highest good,
Lord God living and true.

You are love, charity; You are wisdom, You are humility,
You are patience, You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are security, You are rest,
You are gladness and joy, You are our hope, You are justice,
You are moderation, You are all our riches to sufficiency.

You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are the protector, You are our custodian and defender,
You are strength, You are refreshment, You are our hope,
You are our faith, You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness, You are our eternal life,
Great and wonderful Lord, Almighty God, Merciful Savior."

May we experience the overwhelming love of God as did Francis!

The image is by Giotto, composed about 1250, and is presently housed in the Louvre, Paris.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blankets for God's Little Ones.

Left to right
Sisters Barbara Gerlach, Etta Patton and Karen Stapleton
knitted blankets for the Pediatrics Ward for Good Samariton Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Sister Agnes Valimont is still working on her blanket.
Previous to this these Sisters made sweaters for small children for the orginazation of Lamb's Wool.
May God reward their kindness to children.
Praise the Lord now and always.



by achristianpilgrim
MARY suffered terribly at the foot of the cross as she watched her son die an excruciating death. She showed her son her love in the only way she could, by her presence with Him. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, she had eyes of faith that believed God’s plan was coming to fruition, even though it was nowhere to be seen. She cried out at the injustice, but she believed that the power of God would overcome death.
Surrounded by Jesus’ persecutors, Mary herself called to join with Him in His prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). If any sense of condemnation had been in the cry in her heart, Mary would not have been in union with Jesus. Only by turning to the Holy Spirit in her could Mary forgive and bless in the face of complete injustice, hatred, and violence.
All of us will experience the rebuff of others at some time. But can we remain at the foot of the cross with Mary and forgive those who hurt us by their words of deeds? Mary accepted Jesus’ invitation to take His “beloved disciples” as her son, and in doing so, she accepted all His disciples as members of her family. Even now, thirty-three years after the angel’s first visit, Mary again was called to lay down her own ideas of family and of what she wanted for her life. And again, her doing so was the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her.
We, too, are called to love all men and women who call themselves Christian. Are we willing to follow Mary’s example and embrace all of God’s family, setting aside our prejudices?
Many people who are close to us, even we ourselves, will face suffering. We will find it hard to understand why things that seem unfair and painful happen to us and to those we love. Today’s feast, however, reminds us of the grace of God at work in Mary as she shared Jesus’ suffering. Mary encourages us to face our sorrows also with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Jakarta, 15 September 2014
A Christian Pilgrim

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today thursday September 11, 2014 we remember September 11, 2001

We hold in prayer all those who lost loved ones and ask the deceased to intercede for their familes and loved ones and for our country as we pray that ISIS and all others who desire to hurt innocent people will have a change of heart. May God watch over all of us and give us peace.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Mary Birth-Murillo
In celebrating this special feast of the Virgin Mary, St. Andrew of Crete [c.650-July 4, 712 or 726 or 740] once declared, “Let all creation sing and dance and contribute its fullest measure of joy to the day’s celebration. Today heaven and earth join in a single festival and celebrate together, for today a shrine is fashioned for the world’s Creator! Today a new dwelling is readied by creatures for the Author of creation!” We also can join in the rejoicing, since it was for our sake too that God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus.
We are all familiar with the famous passage from John’s Gospel that says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We hear this verse and marvel at God’s plan of salvation in Christ. But it’s also marvelous the way God’s plan involved a sinless virgin mother to bear His Son into the world.
From age to age, God has unfolded His plan with painstaking care. He did not just send Jesus to earth one day. He had to choose and form the right parents for His Son, and He even went so far as to choose and form His grandparents, and so on. Imagine all the work God did to shape Mary so that she could become Jesus’ first teacher in what it was like to live in this world and stay close to God.
Recalling all God’s plans shows us how committed God is to us. Indeed, just as God carefully chose Mary to play a special part in His plan of salvation, He now has an important role for each of us to play as we imitate Mary’s humility and trust. Just as He did with Mary, God delights in telling us the plans He has for us!
Jakarta, 8 September 2014
A Christian Pilgrim

Saturday, September 6, 2014



by achristianpilgrim
(A biblical reflection on the 23rd ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 7 September 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:15-20
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalms: Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10
forgivenessThe Scripture Text
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:15-20 RSV)

Today’s Gospel is preceded by a parable, “the parable of the Lost Sheep” (Matthew 18:12-14). This parable is addressed to the disciples to impel them to seek out lost members of the community. The parable emphasizes that the sinful member of the community is never to be despised but must become the focus of concern. Such solicitude is a reflection of God’s own love for sinners. In today’s Gospel, Matthew lays down practical procedures for handling disputes in the community (Matthew 18:15-18).
Some people in our community are too submissive. They continually back off and are afraid to voice an objection, and this gives them a sense of diminished self-worth. Others are too aggressive. They push people about in an arrogant and dominating manner. These are the people with an exaggerated view of self-importance. Abraham Lincoln once spoke to this issue when he said: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.”
HAPPY JESUSBetween these two extremes is found the ideal quality for good human relationships – assertiveness. Assertive people neither cower from fear nor threaten with force. They frankly express their feelings and hopes to the person or people with whom they are having difficulties. Assertive people are strong, open and peace-loving.
Hurts and wrongs often go undiscussed and unattended because it is hard for us to talk about them. Although we avoid direct confrontations, we often resort to making complaints behind the scene.
“If your brother sins against you,” says Jesus in today’s Gospel, “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15).This is simply a call to be assertive. Such an action can save untold hardships and enable us to quickly solve many problems which otherwise could linger on for years or even a lifetime. This is true in cases of family life, good neighborhood, or other aspects of human relationships.
If we cannot solve our difficulties with others, Jesus recommends that we seek the help of a third person – not to provide an answer but to be an arbiter so that the disputants can better arrive at a mutual solution.
If the conflict still continues, it should be submitted to the Church for a group decision or the assistance of one who is skilled in that area. This biblical approach to conflict management seeks to achieve peace between people and to avoid lawsuits. It especially seeks to avoid the use of violence to solve problems. The power of “binding and loosing” (here referring especially to decisions about membership in the community) given to Peter in Matthew 16:19 is extended to the Church (Matthew 18:18). And, the community has definite power, particularly when united in prayer (Matthew 18:19-20), because the Risen Lord is in its midst.
Jesus expects us to love one another in an atmosphere of unity and openness, without playing the role of either slave or master. The virtue of assertiveness does not diminish the other person. Through openness, it speaks and listens and achieves a peaceful understanding.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray for unity in my Christian communities where I am a member, my family, with my friends, and among all people. Make me an assertive person, Lord, and may the world know that we are Christians by our love for one another. Amen.
Jakarta, 5 September 2014
A Christian Pilgrim

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