23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 7/9/2014 - Gospel: Mt 18: 15-20
Community healing
Living together in the faith community is an art and the art of the faith living is gained through acceptance and tolerant. Tolerance of community life style means several things, namely open- minded and understanding and charitable. These elements maintain harmony and peace of the individuals in the community. Each person has his/ her own way to achieve the art of living and we need to respect it unless it contradicts to the teaching of Jesus. Conflict between individuals will happen and dispute is unavoidable.  When it happens it is better to solve it early rather than later. Waiting for a crisis to die is an evasive responsibility of its leaders. Instead of dying the crisis may grow and factions and disunity within the community will happen. The voice of the faith community is necessary to restore peace for the parties involved and for the welfare of the community. Crisis whether it is big or small creates disharmony. Repentance and forgiveness is what the community needs to restore. The purpose is not simply restoring the relationships between fractions but it is to restore peace for the community, to enrich the art of living through conflicts and the primary purpose is to win back the person to God. God's love for the world is disgraced through disarrays and scandals in a faith community.

The faith community should be involved in solving the crisis. It is not meant to condemn any party or to be bias to anyone, but to do it in a just and fair way with compassion and love. The procedure requires more witnesses to get involved. The gospel says nothing about the criteria to select witnesses for a crisis but I presume witnesses are Elders of the community. When a party disobeys the voice of the Elder Council then it is a clear sign saying he refuses to accept its authority. We recall that Jesus recognized the power of the community leader when He told Pilate that

'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above you'. Jn 19,11

When a party ignored the voice of the community that party somehow publicly declares that from now on I am no longer to be a member of the community. It is the party who disowns his membership of the community and the community of faith simply respects his choice. The person considers himself as a non member of the community of faith and that means he chooses to live a life of a gentile or a tax collector. A tax collector at the time of Jesus was understood to be the one who denied worshipping God and cooperated with the foreigners' power to suppress his own people. A person who lives in a community and listens to no one will live in isolation and all his relationships are disconnected. He is surrounded by many and yet he is an island of himself, being isolated, remote and lonely. 

The voice of the Elder council is the voice of human ways but Jesus recognizes their authority because they are endowed with God's grace. Jesus is present amongst them when they act in the manner of prayers and love. The faith community helps to solve a crisis but it is also the breeding ground that starts a crisis. The faith community gives nurture and support and protection to it members but it also requires its members to live and act with responsibility.