Faith Daily | 11 August 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - PENTECOST APBA p570
Grant to us, Lord, we beseech you,
the spirit to think and do always such things as are right,
that we, who cannot do anything that is good without you,
may by you be enabled to live according to your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 18: 15-20
15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Mary Dean
In Matthew 18 Jesus is answering specific questions with specific answers. There appear to be issues and struggles in the early Christian communities and Jesus is addressing them. In verses 1-4 of this chapter it involves struggles for power; in verses 5-10 - scandalous behaviour that is causing others to stray from the right path; and in verses 12-14 the need to bring back those who are lost to the community.
The verses we are looking at today, 15-20, deal with the delicate matter of reproving those whose sinful behaviour is such that they need correction. It is clear from the passage that Matthew is aware of accepted protocol for such correction in the early church setting.
In contemporary western societies, the words ‘authority’, ‘correction’ and ‘sin’ are more likely than not to evoke a negative response. It is true that the experience of individuals and communities around these three words and their associations sometimes go a fair way to explaining that negativity.
In the first centuries of the Christian Church punishment for serious sin was often harsh and public. Public sinners were outed before the community and forced to dress in sackcloth and ashes for some time before being brought back into the community. The discipline of the Church today is mild by comparison! Nevertheless, human sinfulness causes harm to individuals and to the community. Those in leadership whether in family, church, school or wider society need to endeavour to use appropriate ways to correct sinful behaviour, rehabilitate the individual, repair the harm done to the community and arrange for appropriate reparation. This needs to be surrounded by much prayer and wisdom sought from God.
What comforting words we find in verse 20, especially as we are confronted with what seems to be a dwindling Christian church and influence throughout the world in these times – “Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among you”.
We thank God our Father for his presence with us – to guide, protect and comfort us in our Christian journey.
FINAL PRAYER: Mary Dean
Heavenly Father, may the words of Christ dwell in me richly and help me to speak the truth in love in every situation that I may face. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.