We are at the beginning of the month of September when things normally would begin to pick up in regard to parish activities, but this year may be much different than before. As we approach the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, I invite you to enter into our celebration by pondering the readings of this Sunday.
“Conflict resolution is a hot topic in management manuals, business leadership books, and of course familial relations. Even though we may all approach an issue with good intent, since we are human beings, conflict will naturally arise. As hard as it may be to believe (tongue in cheek), even in churches—communities dedicated to the love of God and the service of neighbor—we experience conflict. Such conflict in the church is unfortunately nothing new. Matthew’s gospel today tells us how conflict resolution is to take place in a community of believers. Generally, he is reflecting the rule of subsidiarity, which is, handle the issue at the lowest, or closest, level possible, as opposed to bringing it to a central authority. In modern terms, it’s as though Matthew is telling us that each conflict at the parish level need not go to the bishop, much less to the Vatican! It should be noted that the conflict resolution pattern is to be applied to a member of the community (“a brother”). Matthew is not giving instructions on how to resolve conflicts with outsiders. These rules apply only to fellow Christians, members of the church. Each disciple is empowered to correct any other when there is the occasion of sin. But this correction is to be done privately as a way to honor the reputation of the one being corrected and in light of the familial relationships that are the model for this community of disciples (cf. Matt 12:46-50).
… when we join a community of believers, it’s not that we’ve found heaven on earth, or a community of perfection. Instead, we have a community of human beings – with faults, failings, and even sin. The church, and even individual believers, has an obligation to act when faced with sinful actions.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if we could all get along? Our lives would be happy, and joy would mark our existence. But the church is not like that. Even the most secure and safe nuclear families – individuals raised in the same household, for whom love may be a given – have challenges with one another. As long as we are living in the period before the coming of Christ, we will experience sin and the fragmentation and fracturing of relationships. How do we respond when this inevitably happens? Certainly not in kind. Matthew gives us some practical steps to follow.
While Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel makes sense, it’s also really difficult! When someone hurts us, it’s so much easier to fume to others about what this person has done than to go and talk to the one who has wronged us. Often when our egos or feelings have been bruised, there is a deep desire to get others on our side. Their support makes us feel better about ourselves and justified in our grievance. Though this may seem easier and safer than going to the one who has hurt us directly, it’s no way to build a community. As Jesus recounts the process, if meeting one-on-one doesn’t work, only then should other members of the community be brought in. This first step of direct communication is the foundation for living in the world as a reconciling community, intent on building peace.” (Living Liturgy 2020)
As I have done before, I would like to invite some of you to consider attending the 5:30pm Mass on Saturday, which is not as busy as the 9:00am or 11:00am Masses. This way there is no fear that we might be forced to turn any of you away due to reaching our 30% seating capacity at those Masses.
Also please note that we are bringing back the 4:00pm Mass next Sunday, September 13, but from September 13 – October 18 (not including October 11 during the Thanksgiving weekend) this Mass is being reserved for the celebration of 1st Communion with the students from each of our 5 elementary schools.
And finally, as of this week we will be extending the office hours. The office will now be open Tuesday – Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm, and will remain closed on Mondays. The office hours might be adjusted in the future depending on how busy things get.
For those who cannot yet join us in person, please join us virtually for the 9:00am morning Mass which will be live-streamed, beginning at 8:30am with the Rosary, at the picture below.
Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!